Vol. 4 No. 5 March 2006

Admissions Process 

BE-BMES Recognized

Johnson & Johnson Prize

Interview With Dr. Berlin

BME at the University of Virginia

Printable Version

The BioTECH Quarterly

Johnson & Johnson Excellence in Biomedical Engineering Research Prize—2005 Recap and Preview for 2006

By Ye Ding '08, Operations Editor

    One of the goals of the MIT student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) is to encourage student participation in bioengineering, both on and outside of campus. Johnson & Johnson, in its development of healthcare and pharmaceutical products, has been making use of many biomedical innovations. The MIT BE-BMES Johnson & Johnson Excellence in Biomedical Engineering Research Prize was established under the mutual belief that an interdisciplinary bioengineering education often serves as the foundation of designing new products. This prize promotes innovation by recognizing and rewarding the students for their research.

    Thanks to the support of the Division of Biological Engineering at MIT and the generous funding from Johnson & Johnson, each year for the past three years, five recipients received cash prizes. This year, the event is being organized by Stephanie Reed, VP of Special Projects. The contest will take place in the first week of April. Undergrads and Master's candidates with research related to bioengineering are eligible. Applicants must complete and submit an application package. A review committee consisting of faculty members and students will select semi-finalists for interviews. Reviewers will examine an applicant's written and oral communication skills, the significance of the research, as well as other aspects. Among the semi-finalists, five will receive rewards.

    For students interested in applying this year, the following recap of 2005's award recipients gives a sample of the research present at the last year's contest.

(from left to right, back) Prof James Sherley—BMES Advisor, Alexis DeSieno—President, Michal Ganz, Judy Yeh, Cameron Sadegh, Jonathan Wu—VP Special Projects, Eleanor Pritchard, (front) Jonathan Coe—’02, J&J Representative, George Eng, Diana Sanchez—’98, J&J Rep, (not in picture) Giovanni Franzesi.

2005 Recipients, BMES Officers, Faculty Advisor, and J&J Representatives:

Michal Ganz ('05 S.M., Course BE)
Research: Investigation of Growth Factors and Cytokines that Suppress Adult Stem Cell Asymmetric Cell Kinetics
Supervisor: Professor James L. Sherley

    Adult stem cells have many biomedical potentials, such as tissue engineering, cell replacement, and gene therapy. Expanding pure populations of ASCs, however, has eluded investigators in part because ASCs divide by asymmetric cell kinetics. Our lab uses the Suppression of Asymmetric Cell Kinetics (SACK) method for expand ASCs. We have found that Wnt peptide shifts the cell kinetics from asymmetric to symmetric, whereas IGF-1 appears only to affect generation time. New SACK agents might allow us to obtain purer populations of ASCs and to study their properties.

Giovanni Talei Franzesi (’06, Course 2A-14)
Research: Inhalable Dual-Release Drug Delivery Vehicles
Supervisor: Doctor Shiladitya Sengupta, Sasisekharan Lab

    From a pathophysiologic point of view, asthma is charachterized by two phases: Early Asthmatic and Late Asthmatic Reaction (EAR and LAR). EAR occurs minutes after exposure to an allergen and manifests as massive bronchocostriction. LAR occurs 6 to12 hours later and is mainly due to the inflammatory response following EAR. Repeated, massive inflammation eventually leads to lung tissue remodeling and morbidity. In order to optimally treat both phases, we developed an inhalable dual release drug delivery vehicle, consisting of a larger (3-6 um) lactose carrier and, embedded within it, a bronchodilator and several PLGA nanoparticles. The carrier has optimal aerodynamic charachteristics and quickly releases the bronchodilator. It not only gives quick relief during EAR but also allows the PLGA nanoparticles, which release a glucocorticosteroid at a slower rate, to penetrate farther into the now dilated airways, thus efficiently reducing inflammation. This approach is applicable to the treatment of many other pulmonary conditions.

Cameron Sadegh (’06, Course 10B and 7A)
Research: Development of a FACS-based Assay to Clone Novel Genes Regulating Ectodomain Cleavage
Supervisor: Doctor Andreas Herrlich, Lodish Lab

    In several transmembrane proteins, protease cleavage and ectodomain shedding—the release of the extracellular domain (ECD)—have been linked to the regulation of many signaling pathways in normal physiology as well as in diseases. Ectodomain shedding is mostly carried out by metalloproteases (MMPs), but its regulation and substrate specificity remain largely unknown. We developed a high-throughput FACS-based approach for cloning novel genes that regulate the ectodomain cleavage machinery in three human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER) family ligands: HB-EGF, Nrg1-beta, and TGF-alpha. Different protocols were tested for the viability of cells sorted in the assay. These techniques may be developed into a research tool that reveals novel proteolytic mechanisms relevant to drug design and bioprocessing.

Eleanor Pritchard (’05, Course 7)
Research: Construction of Vascularized 3-D Polymer Scaffolds for Tissue Engineering
Supervisor: Doctor Jeffrey T. Borenstein, Draper Lab

    Tissue engineering is potentially a solution to the shortage of organs available for transplantation. Tissue engineered scaffolds require dense vascularization to effectively deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cellular components of the implant. Technologies collectively known as microfabrication can be used to incorporate the necessary microvasculature into the scaffolds. PLGA and PDMS scaffold layers are molded and stacked into 3D constructs. These devices have been flow tested to confirm that they are functioning as predicted.

Judy Yeh (’06 M.Eng, Course BE) and George Egg (’06, Course 7 and 10)
Research: Engineering in vitro Microenvironmental Controls to Study Cellular Interactions
Supervisor: Professor Robert Langer

    Control of cell-microenvironment interactions is important for the developing tissue engineering constructs and in vitro cultures that mimic tissue architecture in vivo. The interactions between cells and their environment fall into three major modes: cell to extracellcular matrix (ECM), cell to cell, and cell to soluble signaling factor. For each of these modes, we developed novel techniques to engineer in vitro microenvironmental controls: surface patterning for cell-ECM interactions, patterned co-cultures for cell-cell interactions, and microfluidics for cell-soluble signaling factor interactions. With the ability to control cellular interactions potentially at the single cell level, these techniques may make feasible a more precise approach to directing cellular processes for applications in tissue engineering and organ regeneration.

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