Heart nanofibers in STAT Madness quarterfinals

Texas Heart Institute/Rice nanotube fibers make final eight in biomedical competition

The people have spoken again, and Texas Heart Institute (THI) and Rice University’s heart-saving nanotube fibers have advanced to the quarterfinal round of STAT Madness.

Heart nanotube fiber graphicNow the team needs your votes — stat! — to make the semifinals.

Only eight teams remain of the original 64 in the NCAA-style, single-elimination national competition to choose the past year’s best university-based bioscience project.

THI/Rice will go up against St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital for the right to enter the semifinal round. Online voting is open until March 26 at 10:59 p.m.

The discovery revealed last August that the fibers can be used to bridge electrical gaps in heart tissue damaged by cardiac arrest. The research team was co-led by Dr. Mehdi Razavi of THI and Matteo Pasquali, the A.J. Hartsook Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a professor of materials science and nanoengineering and of chemistry at Rice.

The American Heart Association helped fund the research with a 2015 grant. The team’s paper was chosen as an open-access Editor’s Pick in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Arrhythmia and Electrophysiology.

The research springs from the pioneering 2013 invention by Pasquali’s lab of a method to make conductive fibers out of carbon nanotubes. The fibers are also being studied for electrical interfaces with the brain for use in cochlear implants, as flexible antennas and for automotive and aerospace applications.

STAT, an online publication associated with the Boston Globe focused on health and medicine, began the competition in 2017 to celebrate biomedical science and remind readers that “tackling disease starts with small advances, often supported with federal funding,” according to a preview of this year’s event.

Two winners will be chosen: a “fan favorite” based on votes by the public, and an editor’s pick chosen by STAT journalists. The winners will be announced April 6.

About Mike Williams

Mike Williams is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.