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February 2008 Issue

The “fingerpen,” invented by UC student Sarma Singam, is one example of the work being conducted by UC students and staff.
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Showcase 2008 Attempts to Spur Collaboration for UC's Research, Technology Initiatives

Published February 2008

Drug discovery capabilities, medical devices and advances in surgical techniques are just a few of the things to be featured at UC’s Showcase 2008.

The March 7 biennial event is designed to highlight UC research and technology with the goal of attracting industry visitors and creating new partnerships between university scientists and local and regional companies.

Growing the number of industry partnerships has become a focus for the university and its research enterprise, particularly as the federal research budget continues to level off. In 2007, UC increased its industry-sponsored research support by nearly 40 percent.

“Showcase 2008 is the perfect venue for cultivating existing collaborations and sparking new ones,” says Dorothy Air, PhD, associate senior vice president for entrepreneurial affairs at UC.

“And by putting much of our cutting-edge applied research and technology in one spot for all to see, we’re not only reaching out to potential industry partners, we’re also reminding the UC community that there is potential for partnerships across departments and colleges.”

Sarma Singam, a third-year biomedical engineering student on the bachelor’s-to-medical degree path, will use Showcase 2008 to present a device he’s developing for writer’s cramp.

His “fingerpen” apparatus is designed to mimic the motion of writing on a whiteboard—a task that is controlled more by the arm than by the fingers.

The fingerpen, Singam says, is basically a pen attached to the end of the index finger. It’s a simple enough design, with practical applications, that’s already sparked an internal collaboration.

Alberto Espay, MD, assistant professor of neurology, will work with Singam to test the fingerpen on people with a type of writer’s cramp (called focal task-specific dystonia) to see if it improves writing abilities.

“Sarma’s work is a great example of how even the youngest generations at UC are working hand in hand with faculty to advance science,” says Espay, a physician-researcher at the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

Singam’s fingerpen is just one of more than 100 expected exhibits at Showcase 2008. In addition, the event is partnering with UC’s Graduate Poster Forum—an annual presentation of more than 200 graduate student research projects.

Showcase 2008 is a free event open to business leaders and the general and UC communities.

For more information, call (
513) 263-2722 or visit

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