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Two Viterbi School Young Innovators Named to Technology Review's Top 35

Andrea Armani and Ellis Meng Recognized in the Prestigious TR35 Listing

August 18, 2009 —

The University of Southern California today announced that two faculty members from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have been recognized by Technology Review magazine as some of the world's top innovators under the age of 35. Andrea Armani, Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering, and Ellis Meng, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, will both appear on the prestigious 2009 TR35 list.

Andrea Armani

Selected from more than 300 nominees by a panel of expert judges and the editorial staff of Technology Review, the TR35 is an elite group of accomplished young innovators who exemplify the spirit of innovation. Their work--spanning medicine, computing, communications, nanotechnology, and more--is changing our world.

“Having two members of your faculty named to the TR list in a single year is remarkable,” said Yannis Yortsos, the Viterbi School’s dean. “We are immensely proud of Andrea and Ellis.”

Andrea Armani
Andrea Armani is a highly creative scientist focused on the development and integration of optical devices for biological applications. This includes using previously studied and characterized optical devices, such as waveguides, as well as developing novel optical structures.

Armani has developed a unique platform for highly sensitive chemicals and biological sensors based on Si integrated circuit technology.  These sensors leverage changes in the optical properties of tiny toroidal optical resonators and have shown the ability to sense and measure single molecules in a fluid. Armani’s resonant optical sensor has inherent versatility because it can perform detection either as a single sensor or as part of a larger multiplexed array of sensors integrated with an integrated circuit. This innovation in sensor technology could enable a small, potentially portable device with low power requirements. 

Possible uses could include monitoring a soldier’s health or checking food and water supplies for bacteria. In medicine, the ability to distinguish between viral and bacterial infections could lead to more accurate diagnoses and earlier interventions against disease.  Armani said the technology could be especially important in areas where health care infrastructure is less developed and advanced hospital care is distant or unavailable.

Ellis Meng

Ellis Meng
Ellis Meng’s work leverages micro- and nano-technologies to develop drug delivery platforms that achieve three main goals: benchtop tools compatible with both cells and tissues for rapid scientific and drug discovery, implants for targeted release of therapeutics in disease models, and translational medical device technologies for the treatment of human conditions.  

The ability to deliver or extract minuscule volumes of fluid with spatiotemporal precision is an extremely powerful technology that enables advanced biomedical therapies.  These technologies advance beyond conventional needles for drug injection or Petri-dish based biomedical research.  

This approach may lead to effective treatments of central nervous system injuries, epilepsy, cancer, and other diseases that result in devastating lifelong physical disabilities in millions of Americans.  Many of these conditions are presently incurable and drug therapy is the preferred treatment method.  Meng’s research team is engaged in several clinical collaborations to address these conditions, and is even looking at ways to better understand drug addiction. Next generation closed-loop drug delivery platforms that include integrated sensors that can detect when drug is needed, trigger the delivery, and continually monitor the effectiveness of the treatment are also being developed.

In the past few years, through numerous referenced and peer-reviewed conference publications, she has become a national leader in this field. She is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Early Career Award to manipulate fluids as a medium for interfacing to cells and tissues.  She recently received the Wallace H. Coulter Early Career Translational Research Award to develop an implantable drug delivery pump for target delivery in the treatment of incurable ocular disease.  Meng is the co-author of three awarded patents, four provisional patents, and five pending patents.  

“The TR35 honors young innovators for accomplishments that are poised to have a dramatic impact on the world as we know it,” said Jason Pontin, editor in chief and publisher of Technology Review magazine.  “We celebrate their success and look forward to their continued advancement of technology in their respective fields.” Armani and Meng and the other TR35 winners for 2009 will be featured in the September/October issue of Technology Review magazine and honored at the EmTech@MIT 2009 Conference to be held at MIT in Cambridge, MA, September 22–24, 2009.

About the USC Viterbi School of Engineering
Consistently ranked among the top 10 engineering schools in the United States, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering is achieving new heights through research and educational leadership in crucial realms of technology and innovation: the information sciences, biomedical engineering and homeland security. The school has been awarded national centers in each of these areas, and also conducts major research activities in energy, megacities, robotics and game development.

About the USC Stevens Institute for Innovation
The USC Stevens Institute for Innovation (http://stevens.usc.edu) is a university-wide resource in the Office of the Provost at the University of Southern California designed to harness and advance the creative thinking and breakthrough research from USC for societal impact.  USC Stevens Institute identifies, nurtures, protects, and transfers to the market the most exciting innovations from USC, and in turn, provides a central connection for industry seeking cutting-edge innovations in which to invest.  Furthermore, USC Stevens Institute develops the innovator as well as innovations, through educational programs, community-building events, and showcase opportunities. 

About Technology Review
Technology Review and TechnologyReview.com are published by Technology Review, Inc., an independent media company owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The oldest technology magazine in the world (est. 1899), Technology Review aims to promote the understanding of emerging technologies and to analyze their commercial, social, and political impacts. In addition, Technology Review, Inc. produces TechnologyReview.com, a website that offers daily news and opinion on emerging technologies. It also produces live events such as the EmTech Conference.