Collaborative Team Earns Grant to Continue Research for Pain Management Patch for Cattle

From left: Lauren F. Greenlee, Jorge Almodovar and Jeremy G. Powell.
University Relations

From left: Lauren F. Greenlee, Jorge Almodovar and Jeremy G. Powell.

Three U of A researchers — two in chemical engineering and one in animal science — have received a $500,000 grant to continue research in pain management for cattle during routine procedures.

Jorge Almodovar, assistant professor of chemical engineering; Jeremy G. Powell, professor of animal science; and Lauren F. Greenlee, associate professor of chemical engineering, received the grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

In spring 2019, the same team was selected for funding by the Chancellor's Fund for Innovation and Collaboration. Those initial funds were used to support graduate students in chemical engineering and animal science who generated the preliminary data necessary to pursue the USDA grant.

"This is a tremendous achievement by the team," Almodovar said, "because it shows how the initial investment by the Chancellor's Innovation and Collaboration Fund can be leveraged to secure additional funding. So far, this project has resulted in a provisional patent application, a peer-reviewed publication, several presentations at national conferences and now a funded federal grant."

The funding will support the education of two or more graduate students in animal science and engineering.

The four-year USDA-NIFA grant will also support continued research to evaluate a chitosan-based, biodegradable microneedle patch developed by the research team to deliver meloxicam for pain relief to cattle undergoing routine procedures such as castration.

Meloxicam is a pain medication used in veterinary applications. However, in the U.S. it has limited uses in cattle mainly due to short duration formulations, Powell said. "Our team has engineered a microneedle patch using the biodegradable polymer chitosan, or crustacean shells, which is capable of delivering meloxicam when applied transdermally, through the skin. This project will further explore the capacity of these patches to manage pain."

According to the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, "the microneedles dissolve within minutes after insertion into skin to release encapsulated drug or vaccine."

Jorge Almodovar holds the Ray C. Adam Chair and is assistant professor in the Ralph E. Martin Department of Chemical Engineering. He also serves as the NSF-funded Bridge-to-the-Doctorate site director at the U of A. His research focus is on polymeric biomaterials for applications in cell manufacturing, tissue engineering, drug delivery and water treatment.

Lauren Greenlee is an associate professor and holds the Ralph E. Martin Leadership Chair in chemical engineering. Her research focuses on water chemistry, nanomaterials and electrochemistry. A branch of physical chemistry, electrochemistry is the study of the relationship between electricity and chemical change, including reactions and outcomes derived from the application of one to the other.

Jeremy Powell is a doctor of veterinary medicine and professor in the Department of Animal Science in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences. He's also a researcher and scientist with the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the U of A System Division of Agriculture. His primary research focuses on beef cattle health.

About the Chancellor's Innovation and Collaboration Fund: Since its establishment in 2016, the Chancellor's Fund has invested up to $1 million annually in seed funding. Faculty pursuing interdisciplinary studies in the university's signature research areas are encouraged to apply for the Collaboration and Innovation Fund. The three signature areas identified by the U of A are Advancing the Data Revolution, Improving Human Health and Community Vibrancy, and Innovating a Resilient and Sustainable Future.


Christin R. Finney, website developer
College of Engineering


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