UConn Research will Go into Space!

Prof. Yupeng Chen has received a grant titled: “Engineering Multiple-Compartment Cartilage Tissue Construct for Space and Terrestrial Applications” to develop tissue constructs using DNA-inspired Janus base nanotubes in the International Space Station.

This is a multi-agency grant including $400,000 to UConn from NSF and $415,000 to SpaceTango (the implementation partner) from CASIS and NASA. NASA will also cover the cost and resources to launch the experiment into Space via a SpaceX Falcon-9 rocket in 2022.

Four students from the Clinical Engineering Program Awarded Scholarships from AAMI

  • The AAMI–HSEA Health Systems Engineering Scholarship: Rima Viradia
  • AAMI Foundation Michael J. Miller Scholarship: Jacqueline Bertan, Shelby Johns, Emily Sizemore

https://www.aami.org/detail-pages/press-release/aami-names-2020-award-and-scholarship-winners

Profs. Chen and Chon Received NIH Grant to Develop Smartphone Sensor to Detect Tooth Pain

Drs. Ki Chon (right) and I-Ping Chen (left) received a new R21 grant from NIH.  Dr. I-Ping Chen is a Dental Medicine faculty at UConn Health.  This is a multi-PI collaborative grant which will investigate a novel approach to quantify dental pain.  The grant is entitled “Quantitative assessment of dental pain using a smartphone-attachable electrodermal activity sensor.”  The grant is for 2 years (6/1/2020-5/30/2022) and the amount is $462,964.

https://today.uconn.edu/2020/06/uconn-faculty-receive-nih-grant-develop-smartphone-sensor-detect-tooth-pain/

Leila Daneshmandi recognized by Women of Innovation

Leila Daneshmandi, a Ph.D. candidate in our Biomedical Engineering Department, is the 2020 finalist in the category of Collegian Innovation and Leadership women of innovation. This is a great honor and accomplishment to be selected among 150 nominations. For more information, please check links below:

https://www.ct.org/finalists-named-for-16th-annual-women-of-innovation-awards/

https://ctdidi.com/women-of-innovation/finalists-2020/#collegian-innovation

 

Dr. Kazunori Hoshino was awarded a CAREER award from the NSF

Dr. Kazunori Hoshino was awarded a CAREER award from the NSF. His grant is entitled “Biomechanical Signatures in Vertebrate Embryonic Development.” The duration and amount of this award are 5 years and $500K, respectively.

Prof. Hoshino is BME’s 5th CAREER recipient in the past 3 years. The other recipients are Profs. Pierce, Feng, Santaniello and Chen.

UCONN BME Senior Design 2019-2020

Professor Painter Receives 2020 AAMI Foundation & ACCE Robert Morris Humanitarian Award

Join us in congratulating the 2020 AAMI Foundation & ACCE Robert Morris Humanitarian Award recipient: “Frank reflects the spirit of Bob Morris’s vision and the necessary elements of making that vision a reality. His dedication to the profession is evident through his humanitarian work/teaching in several Clinical Engineering workshops spanning over decades for various organizations as ACCE, WHO, International Aid and more. He has set up the only Clinical Engineering MS Degree in the United States at University of Connecticut, has volunteered his time for many organizations (national and international), and is an absolute positive role model for clinical engineering professionals throughout the world.” said Ilir Kullolli, ACCE President.

Spotlight on Professor Nukavarapu’s research as described by one of his PhD students

By Margot Wentzel

Aleksandra Golebiowska is a 3rd year Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Connecticut working with Dr. Syam Nukavarapu in the Tissue Engineering Science and Technology Lab (TEST Lab). Her primary interest is tissue engineering, an exceedingly relevant field, often cited as the future of medicine. The field involves the development of synthetic tissues/body parts for repair/regeneration. Aleksandra’s interest in drug delivery as an undergrad, as well as her work with hydrogels prepared her well for this project. She credits her sister for sparking her interest in science and followed her footsteps by studying engineering as well as pursuing a post doctorate. Caroline Thompson, a Biomedical Engineering undergraduate whose focus is on Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering is assisting Dr. Nukavarapu and Aleksandra on this project. 

Dr. Nukavarapu’s work is focused on engineered grafts for tissue repair/regeneration. This project in particular utilizes the BioX printer by Cell Ink that integrates biomaterials and cells to develop a variety of bioprinted grafts with controlled micro-environment to influence cell behaviour. This specific project is also interested in developing specialized bio-inks from decellularized tissues. TEST Lab is printing with different decellularized materials as bio-inks that contain native growth-factors to induce the desired tissue formation. The team is currently using BioX to develop hybrid scaffold structures with cells for bone, cartilage and bone-cartilage interface engineering.

Aleksandra’s project is to develop spatially controlled grafts and study the role of local-microstructure in complex tissue, such as bone-cartilage interface regeneration. For this project, she develops G-code to fabricate variety of scaffold configurations by altering material infill density along the scaffold length. Using BioX printer, as G-code an input, the team has so far developed a series of scaffold systems with varying pore volume and structure. The lab is also developing gel-based bioprinting techniques using decellularized bio-inks. Even though the printing is straightforward, Aleksandra says the optimization is complex as each biomaterial comes with its own variables. After clocking 100s of hours and much of optimization, the team is now able to print 3d-matrices with desired patterns. Aleksandra is optimistic about successfully printing these structures along with cells to develop bioprinted osteochondral grafts.

In the future this project could relate to a number of applications specifically osteochondral defect management, which involves damage to both the articular cartilage and the underlying subchondral bone. This project would ensure that the bone, cartilage and bone-cartilage interface requirements are taken into account to develop multiphasic structures to be evaluated for osteochondral defect repair. Causes of these defects include disease, trauma or aging-related degeneration, all of which can potentially lead to osteoarthritis, a debilitating joint disease significantly affecting patient’s quality of life. Many of these treatments are often palliative or results in the formation of fibrocartilage, a scar-like tissue. By using this technique that Dr. Nukavarapu is engineering, the development of scaffolds that are structurally similar to the native tissue would allow for regeneration of the articular cartilage and subchondral bone as well as the establishment of the smooth interface formation. Furthermore, it would assist in preventing degeneration/tissue loss and result in fewer total joint replacements, typically end-stage options for these defects. This is a highly impactful research project to the healthcare field.

Aleksandra is on the GAANN fellowship and is excited to continue this work with Dr. Nukavarapu on this project. Next year Caroline will be heading to New York to start a PhD. Program at Cornell University.

Dr. Kshitiz and Yale Researchers Draw an Evolutionary Connection Between Pregnancy and Cancer Metastasis

UConn and Yale Researchers Draw an Evolutionary Connection Between Pregnancy and Cancer Metastasis

Drs. Bin Feng and Guoan Zheng Receive a $2 Million U01 Grant from the NIH

Drs. Bin Feng (PI) and Guoan Zheng (Co-PI) have received a notice of award for their NIH U01 grant. The grant is for three years and the amount is $2.03M.

Title: Determine the topology and molecular profiles of nociceptive DRG neurons innervating the colon and rectum.

Chronic visceral pain is the cardinal symptom of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) affecting up to 15% of the U.S. population. Efficacious and reliable therapeutic intervention is still unavailable despite the tremendous economic burden imposed by visceral pain. Pharmacological treatments of visceral pain in IBS are largely unsatisfactory with side effects outweighing therapeutic benefits. In contrast, neuromodulation (e.g., spinal cord stimulation) as an alternative to drugs has much fewer side effects. Recent advances in neuromodulation of the dorsal root ganglions (DRG) relieves certain somatic and neuropathic pain. Hence, the DRG appears to be a promising target for next-generation neuromodulatory devices to treat IBS-related visceral pain. We aim to leverage our recent technical advances in optical electrophysiology via Ca2+ imaging and single-cell transcriptome assay of sensory neurons to characterize the topology and molecular profiles of colorectal nociceptors in the thoracolumbar and lumbosacral DRG. The outcomes of this research will guide the design of next-generation neuromodulatory devices that target DRG for effective management of chronic visceral pain while minimizing off-target side effects.

U01 NS113873 PI (Feng) co-PI (Zheng) 9/24/2019 – 8/31/2022 $2,030,740

National Institutes of Health, NINDS