ASU engineering professor lauded for regenerative biomedical research

Rege chemical engineering lab

Arizona State University chemical engineer Kaushal Rege has been recognized by the American Society for Photobiology as an emerging research leader in the field – particularly for the use of photobiology in pursuit of medical advances.

The organization gave Rege its New Investigator Award at the society's recent annual national meeting.

Rege is an associate professor of chemical engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, one of ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

His colleague Tayyaba Hasan said Rege is making “exceptionally strong contributions” to research that melds nanotechnology, molecular engineering and photobiology (the study of the interactions of light – specifically non-ionizing radiation – and living organisms).

Hasan is a professor of dermatology at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Harvard Medical School and a professor in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. She was the founding director of the Office for Research Career Development at Massachusetts General Hospital until 2011. She nominated Rege for the society's award.

Rege has made notable progress with photothermal nanomaterials, using them with polymers and polypeptides to repair body tissues.

His research findings have major implications for repair and regeneration of ruptured intestines, colorectal tissue and the repair of skin and eye injuries, Hasan said.

He is using nanomaterials – gold nanorods – with optical properties that convert light into heat, which can be used to seal together body tissues to help repair the impacts of surgery. He has also used the photothermal properties of gold nanorods to trigger a process that is being shown to kill cancer cells. See information on a Department of Defense website that provides more details about this aspect of Rege's research.

Rege is co-editor of a book that is having an impact on efforts to advance nanobiotechnology research, and is editing a new book that is expected to be a significant reference for researchers using nanotechnology along with cellular and molecular engineering to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment.

His work has attracted funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and the Mayo Clinic Center for Regenerative Medicine. In recent years, his research findings have been featured in several leading science and engineering news publications, including Scientific American.

In 2010, Rege also won the Young Investigator Award from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, a part of the U.S. Department of Defense, for developing “smart materials” for sensor technology used in military intelligence and defense systems.

In nominating Rege for the American Society for Photobiology award, Hasan also cites his achievements as an educator. In particular, graduate students he has supervised have won major research fellowships and awards for presentations of their research at science and engineering conferences, including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual national meeting.

In addition, a number of high school students Rege has mentored have won awards at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair.