Innovation laboratory aims to encourage student inventors

Matt Leonard
Contributing Writer

Aspiring inventors at VCU now have a laboratory designed to exercise their creativity.

The Translational Research Innovation Project (TRIP) laboratory is a facility designated for research and prototype development.

TRIP facilities offer a new space on VCU’s medical campus for the engineering school and medical school to collaborate in their research.

“The concept of the lab is for people on the medical campus and people on the engineering campus to work closer together on projects,” said Franklin Bost, the executive associate dean of the School of Engineering.

Sitting on the first floor of the Biotech I building at 800 E. Leigh St., the 240,000-square-foot lab cost $400,000. Construction is set to begin on a 760,000-square-foot research and development lab next month.

Bost said the research and development lab would allow for more community and cooperation.

“Science is collaborative and development is collaborative,” Bost said. “By having what is called a lab neighborhood you have several faculty and their graduate students all working in the same area. You get crosstalk and communication.”

Ideas that are originated in the research and development lab will have the TRIP facility available to create a prototype.

“It’s going to be used for innovation and development, it’s not really a lab,” Bost said. “It’s actually the next step in a lab.”

An example of the work that will be done in the TRIP facilities is a project led by Worth Longest, Ph.D., who works in the mechanical engineering department in cooperation with physicians in the medical school.

Longest helped to develop an inhaler that would give the ideal particle size, distribution and flow for the new medicine created by the physicians. The combination of the new inhaler and the new medication would help to better transport relief to the bronchial structure, Bost said.

Barbra Boyden, Ph.D., Dean of the school of engineering, said that the location is crucial to the success of the TRIP lab.

“Because the TRIP Center is located in Biotech I at the Biotech Park adjacent to VCU’s medical campus, it is ideally situated to tackle issues in health care … to improve healthcare delivery to new technologies for use of stem cells to treat injuries and congenital anomalies,” Boyden said.

Later this month the Virginia Biotechnology Association, a state nonprofit trade organization, will hold its annual legislative reception, Bost said. State senators and congressmen will be in attendance and will get to see where the states funding for research has been going.

No students have used the TRIP lab yet, but Bost said he hopes graduate students in the engineering school and medical school will be able to take full advantage of the facilities soon.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply