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Michael Conzemius, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, (515) 294-9562
Suzanne Hendrich, Food Science and Human Nutrition, (515) 294-0859
Surya Mallapragada, Chemical Engineering, (515) 294-7407
Bridget Bailey, ISU News Service, (515) 294-6881


AMES, Iowa -- Three Iowa State University researchers were the first to receive Bailey research awards from the university.

Surya Mallapragada, associate professor of chemical engineering; Suzanne Hendrich, associate dean of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and professor of food science and human nutrition; and Michael Conzemius, associate professor of veterinary clinical sciences, received the awards. The three faculty have active and growing research projects in biomaterials, nutrition and veterinary medicine.

The research award was established at Iowa State by the estate of Carl A. and Grace A. Bailey. Its aim is to foster innovative research in high-risk areas addressing emerging scientific, technical and/or societal problems. Carl Bailey was an Iowa State electrical engineering alumnus.

Biomaterials research
Surya Mallapragada's work involves polymeric biomaterials for use in drug delivery, gene therapy and tissue engineering. Polymers are large-molecule compounds made from smaller, chemically bonded molecules. Substances such as starch and nylon are polymers.

"We synthesize new polymers with tailored properties for specific applications," Mallapragada said.

In a new approach to drug delivery and gene therapy, Mallapragada's group is currently exploring pH- (the measure of acidity or alkalinity in a substance) and temperature-sensitive drug delivery, and gene therapy methods using "smart" polymers. These polymers respond to changes in their environment.

For example, at room temperature the polymers are liquid, but when their temperature increases to that of the human body, the polymers turn into gels. This allows the polymers to become gels after injection, and then act as drug dispensers -- dissolving bit by bit to administer a dose of medicine in response to pH changes in the body.

Mallapragada received a $97,000 Bailey award.

Healthier foods
Suzanne Hendrich wants her research on isoflavones to point to preventive strategies of common chronic diseases of the digestive system. Isoflavones are naturally occurring compounds in plants that are found chiefly in soybeans. Hendrich is investigating the compounds for benefits in preventive health medicine.

She said identifying microorganisms that cause or prevent the decay of isoflavones is the first step in determining how to ensure that people eating isoflavone-containing foods like soy will obtain all their benefits.

"Isoflavones seem to be needed for cholesterol-lowering effects of soy protein," Hendrich said. "They have also been shown to inhibit cancer development and they may be important in preventing osteoporosis that occurs in women after menopause."

Hendrich's research will focus on gut microorganisms that alter the amount of isoflavone absorbed into the body. She received a $150,000 Bailey Award.

Arthritis help
Michael Conzemius' work may lead to new treatment options for patients with arthritis.

He said the short-term goal of the project is to confirm a basic hypothesis that wear and tear on joints and joint replacements is primarily because of weight (load). If that is true, Conzemius said, treatments can be designed to reduce the wear on joints and joint replacements -- one of the goals of his project. He added that his research is applicable to human use.

"At the moment we are making good progress," Conzemius said. "Improved treatments not only will benefit those that suffer from arthritis, but all of us, because billions of health care dollars are spent each year for the treatment of arthritis-related conditions."

Conzemius received a $99,000 Bailey Award.

A second round of Bailey awards has been announced by Iowa State's vice provost for research and advanced studies office. Two awards for $50,000 per year for two or three years will be made competitively this spring. Deadline for applications within ISU colleges is March 3.


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Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
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