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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Draper Laboratory to Establish Bio MEMS R&D Center and Multi Chip Module Center in Tampa Bay

The Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, Inc., announced today that it will be establishing a BioMEMS R&D Center at the University of South Florida in Tampa and a Multi Chip Module (MCM) Center in St. Petersburg. These facilities will enable Draper to better meet the needs of its customers for advanced, highly complex MCMs and to further its achievements in the biomedical arena.
 “These centers will provide an excellent opportunity for Draper Laboratory to further its work in developing technology solutions to some of the nation’s most critical problems in healthcare, security, and energy,” said Draper President & CEO James D. Shields. “We look forward to working with USF, the Tampa Bay Partnership, Cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, Progress Energy, and the economic development team in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and the State of Florida in executing our mission to serve the national interest.” 

Between these two facilities, Draper will create 165 new high wage jobs. Furthering the educational aspect of its mission, Draper will sponsor two Draper Lab Fellows (DLFs) at USF each year, paying for their graduate education and co-advising their thesis research. 

BioMEMS R&D Center
The BioMEMS R&D Center will be working in partnership with USF and its medical school for the application of MEMS technologies to medical and biological problems. Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) are miniature mechanical devices built using semiconductor manufacturing techniques. MEMS components measure 1 to 100 micrometers -- the average human hair is 50 micrometers in diameter. BioMEMS applications include diagnostic tools, surgical instruments, tissue repair, artificial organs, and drug delivery systems. BioMEMS technologies could address pressing global challenges ranging from the detection of infectious disease to the organ shortage.

“We’re thrilled at the opportunity to work with the people of the University of South Florida to develop BioMEMS-based solutions for critical problems in healthcare,” said Dale Larson, Draper’s director of biomedical engineering.

Multi Chip Module Facility
The Multi Chip Module (MCM) pilot facility in St. Petersburg will allow Draper to meet the increasing demand from its government customers for highly complex, technologically advanced systems in small packages. Multi chip modules are specialized electronic packages where multiple integrated circuits, semiconductor dies and other components work together. Through this integration, MCMs dramatically reduce the size and weight of complex electronic systems. 

“For applications in which size and weight are at a premium, this is the best technology available,” said Paul Rosenstrach, Draper’s special operations director.

Draper Laboratory as Collaborator
The USF relationship will extend Draper’s practice of partnering with academic institutions and medical research organizations. Draper is a founding member of the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), joining organizations such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and many others.

To translate its intellectual property into commercial applications, Draper has entered into licensing agreements and spawned startup businesses based on its intellectual property. For example, Sionex Corporation is an independent, for-profit company commercializing field asymmetric ion mobility spectrometry (FAIMS) technology developed at the Laboratory. Draper’s FAIMS technology has a number of applications, including a portable diagnostic device under development to analyze breath to detect the presence of tuberculosis.

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