Kane Named P.K. Lashmet Professor at Rensselaer

November 19, 2008

Kane Named P.K. Lashmet Professor at Rensselaer

Nanobiotechnology expert Ravi Kane has been named the P.K. Lashmet Professor at Rensselaer.

“Professor Kane is an innovator, a gifted mentor to young researchers, a world leader in his field, and he continues to chart new territory at the increasingly important intersection of nanotechnology and biology,” said Timothy Wei, acting dean of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering. “This new chaired professorship is well deserved. We’re confident of Ravi’s future success, and look forward to seeing his next big research breakthrough.” 

Since joining the Rensselaer faculty in 2001, Kane has won several high-profile awards and published many high-impact research papers.

In August, he received the 2008 Young Investigator Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ Nanoscale Science and Engineering Forum. In 2004, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Technology Review named Kane as among the TR 100, a list of the world’s top 100 young innovators. He was recently named the 2008 Dr. G. P. Kane Visiting Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University Institute of Chemical Technology, in Bombay, India. Kane also won a Rensselaer Early Career Award in 2006.

Kane’s research focuses on the interface of nanotechnology and biotechnology, in attempt to identify new ways of transforming a fundamental molecular-level understanding of nanoscopic and biological systems to develop new advanced materials that can play an important role in tackling important global challenges related to health and medicine.

In a recent publication in Nature Nanotechnology, Kane’s team demonstrated for the first time that upon exposure to visible and near-infrared light, carbon nanotubes mediate the selective deactivation of attached proteins. Kane’s group used this phenomenon to design nanotube-peptide conjugates that selectively destroy anthrax toxin from a mixture of proteins. The group also used these findings to develop and create transparent “self-cleaning” nanotube coatings. 

Kane’s other ongoing projects involve developing potent inhibitors of anthrax toxin, and designing new methods to prevent viruses such as HIV-1 and influenza from infecting other cells. Funding for Kane’s efforts to design toxin inhibitors was recently renewed by a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. National Institutes of Health. His group is developing methods to control cellular microenvironments in order to influence stem cell proliferation and differentiation for applications in tissue engineering. They are also investigating novel microfluidic strategies for the separation of DNA, as well as DNA transport on surfaces.

Kane joined Rensselaer in 2001 and was named a full professor in 2007.  He received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University, earned his master’s degree and doctorate in chemical engineering from MIT, and was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University.

Announced earlier this year, the P.K. Lashmet Career Development Professorship was made possible by an anonymous $1.5 million give to Rensselaer. Named for a retired chemical and environmental engineering professor who still resides in the Troy area, the endowment honors the quality of Lashmet’s teaching and Rensselaer’s commitment to excellence in education and research. 

Lashmet began his Rensselaer career as a young professor in 1966 during a time of re-invigoration of the undergraduate engineering curriculum. He was later appointed executive officer and associate chair of chemical and environmental engineering and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1991. According to the donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, Lashmet memorably put great effort into his role as a mentor for students.

Contact: Michael Mullaney
Phone: (518) 276-6161
E-mail: mullam@rpi.edu

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