NEWS RELEASE, 03/09/98

Annual industrial liaison conference at UC Berkeley March 11 & 12 highlights new drug delivery systems, cancer therapies

by Robert Sanders

BERKELEY -- UC Berkeley engineers and scientists will showcase their latest research findings at the 20th annual Industrial Liaison Program Conference Wednesday and Thursday, March 11-12, on the Berkeley campus.

The conference, sponsored by the College of Engineering and including presentations from the College of Chemistry and Department of Physics, each year attracts several hundred representatives from industry who come to learn about basic research that may have important application for them.

Through exchanges of ideas among faculty, students and industry representatives, the university hopes to foster collaborations, secure funding for research, instruction and equipment, and bring an industry perspective to academic programs.

Reporters are invited to attend the conference. The complete program is available at the URL, but among the highlights are:


KEYNOTE ADDRESS: "The Information Age and the Future of Computing from a Semiconductor Perspective," Brian Halla, Chairman, President and CEO of National Semiconductor Corporation

(8:45 a.m. Wednesday, March 11, Sibley Auditorium, Bechtel Engineering Center)



  • Wednesday, March 11-"Business Focus: Development of the Fabless Model," Robert S. Pepper, President and CEO, Level One Communications, Inc. (12:30 p.m., Pauley Ballroom, Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union)
  • Thursday, March 12-"What if Moore's Law has a Sunset Clause?" George Heilmeier, Chairman Emeritus, Bell Communications Research (12:15 p.m., Pauley Ballroom, MLK Jr. Student Union)


Drug Delivery "Cards" Use MEMS Technology and a Bit of Chaos

In the future the ubiquitous credit card will be joined by drug delivery "cards" you can slap on your arm in a medical emergency or to take a short-term course of antibiotics. For diabetics the delivery cards could be a lifesaver, providing a constant drip of insulin throughout the day that would eliminate the many medical problems caused by fluctuating blood glucose levels. That's the future envisioned by bioengineers at UC Berkeley, who are using the miniaturization technology of MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) to create tiny pumps, bubble valves and needles to deliver drugs through the skin. One obstacle they overcame was learning how to mix liquids on such a small scale. The solution found by mechanical engineer Dorian Liepmann - chaotic mixing.

(10 a.m. Wednesday, Mar. 11, 225B Bechtel Engineering Center)

New Cancer Therapy: A Proton Accelerator to Treat Inoperable Brain Cancer

Nuclear engineers at UC Berkeley are collaborating with UC San Francisco doctors and physicists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to perfect a new kind of treatment for cancer. Called boron neutron capture therapy, it may be a life saver for those with a rare and untreatable form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. Boron compounds are injected into the body and targeted to the tumor only. When the body is irradiated with slow neutrons the boron splits in two, destroying the tumor yet sparing healthy tissue. A proton accelerator is being built at Berkeley Lab to provide the neutrons, and should be ready for clinical trials to begin next year. UC Berkeley nuclear engineers such as Jasmina Vujic are working out the details of how much radiation to use in individual cases, based on data from CT and PET scans of the head.

(10 a.m. session, Wednesday, Mar. 11, 225A Bechtel Engineering Center)

Keeping Critical Utilities Up and Running After an Earthquake

A new NSF-funded program at UC Berkeley - the PEER (Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research) Center - is working with utility companies such as Pacific Gas & Electric to ensure that critical lifelines remain operational after an earthquake. PG&E has given $2.4 million to PEER to increase the reliability and safety of their utilities, for example. As part of the tests, civil engineering professor Gregory Fenves is subjecting electrical substation equipment to simulated earthquakes on UC Berkeley's newly renovated "shake table" - now the largest earthquake simulator in the U.S.

(1:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, 502 Davis Hall)

New Tunable Lasers Can Cram More Information Into Optical Networks

When new high-capacity "gigabit" optical fiber networks (local area networks or LANs, such as ethernet) arrive in the next few months, it will be thanks to new laser technologies. Electrical engineering professor Constance Chang-Hasnain hopes to push speeds ten or a hundred times higher than that, using tunable lasers she developed that can send information on hundreds of different wavelength channels simultaneously through the same optical fiber. Using state-of-the-art MEMS technology she has created a micromechanical laser that is continuously tunable throughout a range of wavelengths, as opposed to the lasers slated for use in gigabit LANs. These lasers also will be part of future computers that will use light to communicate between parallel processors.

(9 a.m. Thursday, March 12, Hogan Room, 5th Floor, Cory Hall)

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