Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering News

Student Wins AIChE Best Poster Award

Student Wins AIChE Best Poster Award

Harin Kanani accepts the 2005 Information Science Invention of the Year award from University of Maryland Division of research Vice President Dr. Jacques Gansler and OTC Executive Director James A. Poulos III. Kanani and his advisor Dr. Maria Klapa won for the technology
Harin Kanani accepts the 2005 Information Science Invention of the Year award from University of Maryland Division of research Vice President Dr. Jacques Gansler and OTC Executive Director James A. Poulos III. Kanani and his advisor Dr. Maria Klapa won for the technology "Data Normalization Strategy for Metabalomic Profiling Analysis."

ChBE Ph.D. student Harin Haridas Kanani, advised by Dr. Maria Klapa, received the Best Poster Award in the Metabolic Engineering and Systems Biology poster session at the Annual Meeting of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) in San Francisco. The award came with $500 in prize money.

Kanani's research is in metabolomic analysis, a relatively new technology that measures the metabolic status and biochemical events associated with a cellular or biological sample from bacteria, fungi, plants, animals, or humans, producing a "metabolic fingerprint." Work in the field is rapidly expanding due to its application potential in human health, nutrition, and industry.

Kanani's winning poster, titled “Data Correction, Normalization and Validation for Enhanced Accuracy of GC-MS Metabolomics Analysis", was based on the novel technology he developed with Klapa, the first that greatly improves the accuracy of metabolomic analysis results.

Two years ago, while reviewing their first set of data, Kanani and Klapa discovered significant problems with the accuracy and reproducibility of the information they collected using metabolomic techniques. "Luckily," Kanani explains, "we were able to come up with a very elegant solution based on an understanding of chemical reaction kinetics and mass balance, instrument design, biological systems and statistical analysis."

They next focused on demonstrating the problem, quantifying the errors they encountered, and proving their approach worked, presenting their results at several conferences. Their efforts ultimately earned them the University of Maryland Office of Technology Commercialization's Best Invention of the Year Award in Information Sciences in April 2006. The project was also the runner-up in the annual 50K Business Plan Competition, in which Kanani demonstrated how their solution could be implemented commercially.

A University of Maryland start-up company will use the technology as the basis to create customized software for metabolomic research, as well as provide analysis services. To view the abstract of Kanani’s research, visit the Office of Technology Commercialization website.

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November 28, 2006


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