With a major research university right in our backyard, a strong military presence and innovative companies throughout the metro region, there’s often a plethora of interesting science and technology news to be found in Southern Arizona. Here’s a breakdown of the most interesting recent developments.
Carbon Fiber for Broken Bones. University of Arizona College of Engineering professor Hamid Saadatmanesh has invented a “flexible carbon fiber fabric designed to be inserted inside and around a fractured bone.” Carbon fibers are mostly composed of carbon atoms and woven in fabrics, known for their extremely high strength and resistance, but low weight. This new technology takes carbon fiber fabric and fills it with an “inert polymer to inflate the fabric, which then acts as a permanent cast which cannot be rebroken.”
Saadatmanesh licensed the technology and started a company, MediCarbone Inc., to commercialize the invention. He has already received investment funding for the invention from UAVenture Capital, a venture capital fund dedicated to commercializing of technologies from the UA. According to Doug Hockstad, assistant vice president of Tech Launch Arizona, this innovation for bone repair is unlike anything else in the marketplace.
Suicide Prevention in Schools. The Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family will receive $1 million from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to improve mental health support in local schools. With this funding, the Governor’s Office will work with multiple Arizona schools to “train staff and educate students on violence, increase reporting and respond to mental health crises.” They will also work with the Arizona Adverse Childhood Experiences Consortium, which studies the relationship between childhood trauma and social/health consequences later in life, and supports efforts to address and prevent them.
Better than Green. Not buying at all is better than buying pro-environmental products, for both the buyer and the planet, according to a new study by UA researcher Sabrina Helm. The study, published in the journal Young Consumers, compared two main categories of pro-environmental behaviors: reduced consumption versus purchasing products designed to limit environmental impacts, such recycled materials. According to Helm, there is evidence for “green materialists,” consumers who are willing to buy environmentally friendly products, but unwilling to actually cut down on buying in general. The study found those who had “fewer materialistic values were much more likely to engage in reduced consumption. Consuming less was, in turn, linked to higher personal well-being and lower psychological distress.” The study examined 968 young adults in their first year of college, and then again two years post-college. The responders answered survey questions that measured “materialism, proactive financial behaviors, pro-environmental behaviors, personal well-being, life satisfaction, financial satisfaction and psychological distress.” The key result of the study: reduce consumption, not just buy the same amount of environmentally friendly products.
Fighting congestive heart failure. Researchers at the UA College of Medicine have shown for the first time that the blood pressure medication Aliskiren can delay the progression of congestive heart failure and lengthen survival rates. Congestive heart failure, which affects more than five million Americans, occurs when the heart doesn’t pump blood as efficiently as it should. The Cardiovascular Disease Research group from the UA College of Medicine found that Aliskiren “blocked muscle loss, prevented fluid retention and saved lives.” The team used technology known as quantitative magnetic resonance to measure fluid accumulation throughout congestive heart failure.