2024 Penn Bioengineering Senior Design Projects Advance to Interdepartmental Competition

On April 17, 2024, the Department of Bioengineering held its annual Bioengineering (BE) Senior Design Presentations in the Singh Center for Nanotechnology, followed by a Design Expo in the George H. Stephenson Foundation Educational Laboratory & Bio-MakerSpace.

A panel of expert and alumni judges chose 3 teams to advance to the School-wide, interdepartmental competition, to be held on May 3, 2024.

Team ADONA: Jude Barakat, Allison Elliott, Daniel Ghaderi, Aditi Ghalsasi, Taehwan Kim

ADONA (A Device for the Assisted Detection of Neonatal Asphyxia)

Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) is a condition that arises from inadequate oxygen delivery or blood flow to the brain around the time of birth, resulting in long-term neurological damage. This birth complication is responsible for up to 23% of neonatal deaths worldwide. While effective treatments exist, current diagnostic methods require specialized neurologists to analyze an infant’s electroencephalography (EEG) signal, requiring significant time and labor. In areas where such resources and specialized training are even scarcer, the challenges are even more pronounced, leading to delayed or lack of treatment, and poorer patient outcomes. The Assisted Detection of Neonatal Asphyxia (ADONA) device is a non-invasive screening tool that streamlines the detection of HIE. ADONA is an EEG helmet that collects, wirelessly transmits, and automatically classifies EEG data using a proprietary machine learning algorithm in under two minutes. Our device is low-cost, automated, user-friendly, and maintains the accuracy and reliability of a trained neurologist. Our classification algorithm was trained using 1100 hours of annotated clinical data and achieved >85% specificity and >90% sensitivity on an independent 200 hour dataset. Our device is now produced in Agilus 30, a flexible and tear resistant material, that reduces form factor and ensures regulatory compliance. For our final prototype, we hope to improve electrode contact and integrate software with clinical requirements. Our hope is that ADONA will turn the promise of a safer birth into a reality, ensuring instant peace of mind and equitable access to healthcare, for every child and their families.

Team Epilog: Rohan Chhaya, Carly Flynn, Elena Grajales, Priya Shah, Dori Xu

Epilog

To address the critical need for effective, at-home seizure monitoring in pediatric neurology, particularly for Status Epilepticus (SE), our team developed Epilog: a rapid-application electroencephalography (EEG) headband. SE is a medical emergency characterized by prolonged or successive seizures and often presents with symptoms too subtle to notice or easily misinterpreted as post-convulsive fatigue. This leads to delayed treatment and increased risks of neurological damage and high mortality. Current seizure detection technologies are primarily based on motion or full-head EEG, rendering them ineffective at detecting SE and impractical for at-home use in emergency scenarios, respectively. Our device is designed to be applied rapidly during the comedown of a convulsive seizure, collect EEG data, and feed it into our custom machine learning algorithm. The algorithm processes this data in real-time and alerts caregivers if the child remains in SE, thereby facilitating immediate medical decision-making. Currently, Epilog maintains a specificity of 0.88 and sensitivity of 0.95, delivering decisions within 15 seconds post-seizure. We have demonstrated clean EEG signal acquisition from eight standard electrode placements and bluetooth data transmission from eight channels with minimal delay. Our headband incorporates all necessary electrodes and adjustable positioning of the electrodes for different head sizes. Our unique gel case facilitates rapid electrode gelation in less than 10 seconds. Our most immediate goals are validating our fully integrated device and improving features that allow for robust, long-term use of Epilog. Epilog promises not just data, but peace of mind, and empowering caregivers to make informed life-saving decisions.

Team NG-LOOP: Katherine Han, Jeffrey Huang, Dahin Song, Stephanie Yoon

NG-LOOP

Nasogastric (NG) tube dislodgement occurs when the feeding tube tip becomes significantly displaced from its intended position in the stomach, causing fatal consequences such as aspiration pneumonia. Compared to the 50% dislodgement rate in the general patient population, infant patients are particularly affected ( >60%) due to their miniature anatomy and tendency to unknowingly tug on uncomfortable tubes. Our solution, the Nasogastric Lightweight Observation and Oversight Product (NG-LOOP) provides comprehensive protection from NG tube dislodgement. Physical stabilization is combined with sensor feedback to detect and manage downstream complications of tube dislodgement. The lightweight external bridle, printed with biocompatible Accura 25 and coated with hydrocolloid dressing for comfort and grip, can prevent dislodgement 100% of the time given a tonic force of 200g. The sensor feedback system uses a DRV5055 linear hall effect sensor with a preset difference threshold, coupled with an SMS alert and smart plug inactivation of the feeding pump. A sensitivity of 90% and specificity of 100% in dislodgement detection was achieved under various conditions, with all feedback mechanisms being initiated in response to 100% of threshold triggers. Future steps involve integration with hospital-grade feeding pumps, improving the user interface, and incorporating more sizes for diverse age inclusivity.

Photos courtesy of Afraah Shamim, Coordinator of Educational Laboratories in the Penn BE Labs. View more photos on the Penn BE Labs Instagram.

Senior Design (BE 4950 & 4960) is a two-semester capstone course taught by David Meaney, Solomon R. Pollack Professor in Bioengineering and Senior Associate Dean of Penn Engineering, Erin Berlew, Research Scientist in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Lecturer in Bioengineering, and Dayo Adewole, Postdoctoral Fellow of Otorhinolaryngology (Head and Neck Surgery) in the Perelman School of Medicine. Read more stories featuring Senior Design in the BE Blog.

Protein Partners Identified as Potential Key for Fetal Bone Development

Image: iStock/Christoph Burgstedt

A pair of proteins, YAP and TAZ, has been identified as conductors of bone development in the womb and could provide insight into genetic diseases such as osteogenesis imperfecta, known commonly as “brittle bone disease.” This research, published in Developmental Cell and led by members of the McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory of the Perelman School of Medicine, adds understanding to the field of mechanobiology, which studies how mechanical forces influence biology.

“Despite more than a century of study on the mechanobiology of bone development, the cellular and molecular basis largely has remained a mystery,” says the study’s senior author, Joel Boerckel, an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery. “Here, we identify a new population of cells that are key to turning the body’s early cartilage template into bone, guided by the force-activated gene regulating proteins, YAP and TAZ.”

Read the full story in Penn Medicine News.

Joel D. Boerckel is Associate Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery and in Bioengineering.

Paul Ducheyne Honored with 2023 ISCM Hironobu Oonishi Memorial Award

Paul Ducheyne, Ph.D.

Paul Ducheyne, Professor Emeritus in Bioengineering and Orthopaedic Surgery Research, has won the 2023 Hironobu Oonishi Memorial Award from the International Society for Ceramics in Medicine (ISCM). This award, the ISCM’s top honor, will only be awarded ten times in total, with previous honorees hailing from Japan and France and focusing on clinical research and life sciences. As the fifth honoree, Ducheyne is the first biomaterials researcher and engineer to win this distinguished prize.

Dr. Hironobu Oonishi was one of the founders of the International Society for Ceramics in Medicine and a leading hip surgeon. He was known for his discovery that irradiated polyethylene displayed greatly improved wear resistance in total joint replacements. In his memory, the ISCM and Kyocera created the Hironobu Oohnishi Memorial Award, with the goal to honor scientists who contributed to ISCM and greatly advanced the clinical use of bioceramics. Each year, the awardee is selected by a committee chaired by Dr. Hiroshi Oonishi, Dr. Hironobu Oonishi’s son. Once ten awardees have been selected, the award granting process will be closed.

Dr. Ducheyne accepted his award at the ISCM annual meeting in Solothurn, Switzerland in October 2023, where he delivered the Opening Ceremony lecture entitled “Bioceramics and Clinical Use – the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

Dr. Ducheyne has been a leading scientist in the field of biomaterial research for decades, with seminal contributions to biomaterials research, especially as it relates to orthopaedics. In bioceramics research, he clearly delineated the unusual properties of engineered bioactive ceramics. Not only was he at the vanguard of the development of these materials, he also generated a fundamental understanding of how these materials exhibit bone bioactive properties and promote skeletal healing. His group has also studied inorganic controlled release materials and has demonstrated the utility of sol-gel synthesized silica-based nanoporous materials for therapeutic use. These materials may well represent a next generation of agents for delivery of drugs, including antibiotics, analgesics, and osteogenic and anti-inflammatory molecules.

During his tenure at Penn, he directed the Center for Bioactive Materials and Tissue Engineering. He was also a Special Guest Professor at the KU Leuven, Belgium. He has founded several successful companies: XeroThera, a spin-out from Penn, that is developing advanced controlled delivery concepts for prophylaxis and treatment of surgical infections; Orthovita, a leading, independent biomaterials company in the world with more than 250 employees at the time of its acquisition by Stryker in June 2011; and Gentis, Inc., which focuses on breakthrough concepts for spinal disorders.

Congratulations to Dr. Ducheyne from everyone at Penn Bioengineering.

2023 Graduate Research Fellowships for Bioengineering Students

Congratulations to the fourteen Bioengineering students to receive 2023  National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) fellowships. The prestigious NSF GRFP program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported fields. The recipients honorees were selected from a highly-competitive, nationwide pool. Further information about the program can be found on the NSF website.

Carlos Armando Aguila, Ph.D. student in Bioengineering, is a member of the Center of Neuroengineering and Therapeutics, advised by Erin Conrad, Assistant Professor in Neurology, and Brian Litt, Professor in Bioengineering and Neurology. His research focuses on analyzing electroencephalogram (EEG) signals to better understand epilepsy.

Joseph Lance Victoria Casila is a Ph.D. student in Bioengineering in the lab of Riccardo Gottardi, Assistant Professor in Pediatrics and Bioengineering. His research focuses on probing environmental factors that influence stem cell differentiation towards chondrogenesis for cartilage engineering and regeneration.

Trevor Chan is a Ph.D. student in Bioengineering in the lab of Felix Wehrli, Professor of Radiologic Science. His research is in developing computational methods for medical image refinement and analysis. Two ongoing projects are: self-supervised methods for CT super-resolution and assessment of osteoporosis, and semi-supervised segmentation of 3D and 4D echocardiograms for surgical correction of congenital heart-valve defects.

Rakan El-Mayta is an incoming Ph.D. student in the lab of Drew Weissman, Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research. Rakan studies messenger RNA-lipid nanoparticle vaccines for the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases. Prior to starting in the Bioengineering graduate program, he worked as a Research Assistant in Weissman lab and in the lab of Michael Mitchell, Associate Professor in Bioengineering.

Austin Jenk is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Robert Mauck, Mary Black Ralston Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering. Austin aims to develop early intervention, intra-articular therapeutics to combat the onset of post-traumatic osteoarthritis following acute joint injuries. His work focuses on developing a therapeutic that can be employed not only in conventional healthcare settings, but also emergency and battlefield medicine.

Jiageng Liu is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Alex Hughes, Assistant Professor in Bioengineering. His work aims to precisely control the bio-physical/chemical properties of iPSC-derived organoids with advanced synthetic biology approaches to create functional replacement renal tissues.

Alexandra Neeser is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Leyuan Ma, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. Her research focuses on solid tumor microenvironment delivery of therapeutics.

 

William Karl Selboe Ojemann, a Ph.D. Student in Bioengineering, is a member of the Center for Neuroengineering and Therapeutics directed by Brian Litt, Professor in Bioengineering and Neurology. His research is focused on developing improved neurostimulation therapies for epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

Savan Patel (BSE Class of 2023) conducted research in the lab of Michael Mitchell, Associate Professor in Bioengineering, where he worked to develop lipid nanoparticle formulations for immunotherapy and extrahepatic delivery of mRNA. He will be joining the Harvard-MIT HST MEMP Ph.D. program in the fall of 2023.

David E. Reynolds, a Ph.D. student in Bioengineering, is a member of the lab of Jina Ko, Assistant Professor in Bioengineering and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. His research focuses on developing novel and translatable technologies to address currently intractable diagnostic challenges for precision medicine.

Andre Roots is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Christopher Madl, Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering. His research focuses on the use of protein engineering techniques and an optimized 3D human skeletal muscle microtissue platform to study the effects of biophysical material properties on cells.

Emily Sharp, a second year Ph.D. student in Bioengineering, is a member of the lab of Robert Mauck, Mary Black Ralston Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering, part of the McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratories. Her research focuses on designing multi-functional biomaterials to enhance tissue repair, specifically intervertebral disc repair following herniation and discectomy.

Nat Thurlow is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Louis J. Soslowsky, Fairhill Professor in Orthopedic Surgery and Bioengineering. Their current work focuses on delineating the roles of collagens V and XI in tendon mechanics, fibril structure, and gene expression during tendon development and healing.

Maggie Wagner, Ph.D. student in Bioengineering, is a member in the labs of Josh Baxter, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Flavia Vitale, Assistant Professor in Neurology and Bioengineering. Her research focuses on the development of novel sensors to record and monitor muscle neuromechanics.

2023 Solomon R. Pollack Awards for Excellence in Graduate Bioengineering Research

The Solomon R. Pollack Award for Excellence in Graduate Bioengineering Research is given annually to the most deserving Bioengineering graduate students who have successfully completed research that is original and recognized as being at the forefront of their field. This year, the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania recognizes the stellar work of four graduate students in Bioengineering.

Margaret Billingsley

Dissertation: “Ionizable Lipid Nanoparticles for mRNA CAR T Cell Engineering”

Maggie Billingsley

Margaret earned a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Delaware where she conducted research in the Day Lab on the use of antibody-coated gold nanoparticles for the detection of circulating tumor cells. She conducted doctoral research in the lab of Michael J. Mitchell, J. and Peter Skirkanich Assistant Professor in Bioengineering. After defending her thesis at Penn in 2022, Margaret began postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the Hammond Lab where she is investigating the design and application of polymeric nanoparticles for combination therapies in ovarian cancer. She plans to use these experiences to continue a research career focused on drug delivery systems.

“Maggie was an absolutely prolific Ph.D. student in my lab, who pioneered the development of new mRNA lipid nanoparticle technology to engineer the immune system to target and kill tumor cells,” says Mitchell. “Maggie is incredibly well deserving of this honor, and I am so excited to see what she accomplishes next as a Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT and ultimately as a professor running her own independent laboratory at a top academic institution.”

Victoria Muir

Dissertation: “Designing Hyaluronic Acid Granular Hydrogels for Biomaterials Applications”

Victoria Muir

Victoria is currently a Princeton University Presidential Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the lab of Sujit S. Datta, where she studies microbial community behavior in 3D environments. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2022 as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow at Penn Bioengineering under the advisement of Jason A. Burdick, Adjunct Professor in Bioengineering at Penn and Bowman Endowed Professor in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She received a B.ChE. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Delaware in 2018 as a Eugene DuPont Scholar. Outside of research, Victoria is highly active in volunteer and leadership roles within the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE), currently serving as Past Chair of the Young Professionals Community and a member of the Career and Education Operating Council (CEOC). Victoria’s career aspiration is to become a professor of chemical engineering and to lead a research program at the interaction of biomaterials, soft matter, and microbiology.

“Victoria was a fantastic Ph.D. student,” says Burdick. “She worked on important projects related to granular materials from the fundamentals to applications in tissue repair. She was also a leader in outreach activities, a great mentor to numerous undergraduates, and is already interviewing towards an independent academic position.”

Sadhana Ravikumar 

Dissertation: “Characterizing Medial Temporal Lobe Neurodegeneration Due to Tau Pathology in Alzheimer’s Disease Using Postmortem Imaging”

Sadhana Ravikumar

Sadhana completed her B.S. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Cape Town, South Africa in 2014 and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 2017. Outside of the lab, she enjoys spending time in nature and exploring restaurants in Philadelphia with friends. She focused her doctoral work on the development of computational image analysis techniques applied to ex vivo human brain imaging data in the Penn Image Computing and Science Laboratory of Paul Yushkevich, Professor of Radiology at the Perelman School of Medicine and member of the Penn Bioengineering Graduate Group. She hopes to continue working at the intersection of machine learning and biomedical imaging to advance personalized healthcare and drug development.

“Dr. Sadhana Ravikumar’s Ph.D. work is a tour de force that combines novel methodological contributions crafted to address the challenge of anatomical variability in ultra-high resolution ex vivo human brain MRI with new clinical knowledge on the contributions of molecular pathology to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease,” says Yushkevich. “I am thrilled that this excellent contribution, as well as Sadhana’s professionalism and commitment to mentorship, have been recognized through the Sol Pollack award.”

Hannah Zlotnick

Dissertation: “Remote Force Guided Assembly of Complex Orthopaedic Tissues”

Hannah Zlotnick

Hannah was a Ph.D. candidate in the lab of Robert Mauck, Mary Black Ralston Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery and in Bioengineering. She successfully defended her thesis and graduated in August 2022. During her Ph.D., Hannah advanced the state-of-the-art in articular cartilage repair by harnessing remote fields, such as magnetism and gravity. Using these non-invasive forces, she was able to control cell positioning within engineered tissues, similar to the cell patterns within native cartilage, and enhance the integration between cartilage and bone. Her work could be used in many tissue engineering applications to recreate complex tissues and tissue interfaces. Hannah earned a B.S. in Biological Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2017 during which time she was also a member of the women’s varsity soccer team. At Penn, Hannah was also involved in the Graduate Association of Bioengineers (GABE) intramurals & leadership, and helped jumpstart the McKay DEI committee. Since completing her Ph.D., Hannah has begun her postdoctoral research as a Schmidt Science Fellow in Jason Burdick’s lab at the University of Colorado Boulder where she looks to improve in vitro disease models for osteoarthritis.

“Hannah was an outstanding graduate student, embodying all that is amazing about Penn BE – smart, driven, inventive and outstanding in every way,” says Mauck. “ I can’t wait to see where she goes and what she accomplishes!”

Congratulations to our four amazing 2023 Sol Pollack Award winners!

Bioengineering Graduate Student Hannah Zlotnick Named Schmidt Science Fellow

by Evan Lerner

Hannah Zlotnick

Hannah Zlotnick, a graduate student in the Department of Bioengineering and a member of the McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, has been named a Schmidt Science Fellow.

She joins 28 early-career scientists from around the world in this year’s cohort, with each receiving support for one to two years, $100,000 in salary support per year, individualized mentoring, and a series of professional development sessions as they pivot to the next stages of their research agendas.

The fellowship is a program of Schmidt Futures, the philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt that aims to tackle society’s toughest challenges by supporting interdisciplinary researchers at the start of their careers.

“Our latest group of Schmidt Science Fellows embodies our vision for this Program at its inception five years ago,” says Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures and former CEO and Chairman of Google. “We find the most talented next-generation leaders from around the world and back these impressive young adults with the resources and networks they need to realize their full potential while addressing some of the big scientific questions facing the world. Congratulations to the 2022 Schmidt Science Fellows, I am excited to see where your science takes you and what you will achieve.”

Working at the intersection of materials science, biology, and applied clinical research, Zlotnick’s postdoctoral work will involve developing advanced bioprinting techniques for regenerative medicine. Such advances are necessary to recreate the multi-cellular composition of orthopedic tissues, such as those found in the knee joint. Lab-grown tissue models can then be used to broaden our understanding of how degenerative diseases progress after injury, limit the need for animal models, and serve as a platform for therapeutic discovery.

Read the full story in Penn Engineering Today.

Ossum Technologies Wins 2022 Y-Prize with Tool for Stabilizing Fractures

by Ebonee Johnson

Cerclage wire is used to stabilize pieces of fractured bone; the OsPass aims to make it easier for surgeons to put that wire into place.

The Y-Prize, a student startup competition based on technologies developed at Penn Engineering, is hosted by the Wharton School’s Mack Institute for Innovation Management, Penn Wharton Entrepreneurship and the Penn Center for Innovation each year. The team with the best pitch takes home $10,000 in investment funding.

This year’s winning team was Ossum Technologies, composed of Ananya Dewan, Hoang Le, Shiva Teerdhala, all students in the Vagelos Life Sciences and Management Program, Bioengineering major Karan Shah and Savan Patel, a student in the Jerome Fisher Program for Management & Technology.

The team utilized the steerable needle technology developed by Mark Yim, Asa Whitney Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, and colleagues. Yim’s device is a flexible needle that can be guided through soft materials with simple handheld controls, enabling users to pinpoint hard-to-reach areas that might otherwise require more complicated tools or robotic assistance.

Read the full story in Penn Engineering Today.

Ossum Technologies Wins 2022 Y-Prize

Team Ossum Technologies

Ossum Technologies, a team of Penn undergraduates including several Bioengineering majors, has won the 2022 Y-Prize Competition. The annual Y-Prize Competition, which includes a $10,000 award, is sponsored by Penn Engineering, the William and Phyllis Mack Institute for Innovation Management at the Wharton School, the Venture Lab, and the Penn Center for Innovation, “challenges students to discover the hidden potential in Penn research” by taking technology from the lab to the marketplace.

Traditional hook versus OsPass

Team Ossum is comprosed of Ananya Dewan (Vagelos LSM), Hoang Le (Vagelos LSM), Shiva Teerdhala (Vagelos LSM), Karan Shah (SEAS), and Savan Patel (M&T). Karan and Savan are both bioengineering majors. Their winning pitch to a panel of expert judges proposed “a commercial application to remove obstacles to safe cerclage use in orthopedic fracture fixation with Penn’s steerable needle technology.” Initial work for Ossum’s device, OsPass, was done in the George H. Stephenson Foundation Educational Laboratory & Bio-MakerSpace, the primary teaching lab and interdisciplinary makerspace of the Department of Bioengineering which is open to any Penn students campus-wide.

Team Steed, who proposed “an application to make breast biopsies less painful and damaging,” placed among the competition finalists and included bioengineering majors Farhaanah Mohideen, Ananyaa Kumar, and Kristina Khaw.

Read the full announcement on the Mack Institute website.

How a Diversity Program Enabled a Childhood Orthopaedics Patient’s Research Dreams

by Julie Wood

As a child, Sonal Mahindroo would go to her orthopaedics appointments with her family, slowly becoming more and more fascinated by the workings and conditions of the musculoskeletal system. While being treated for scoliosis, she would receive children’s books from her doctor that helped provide clear and simplified explanations of orthopaedic topics, which supported her interest.

Nearly a decade later, Mahindroo is still interested in expanding her orthopaedic knowledge, and a Penn Medicine program is helping fuel that expansion. Now a senior at St. Bonaventure University in New York, Mahindroo spends her time at the university’s lab. But in addition to that, this year, she was able to take part in more learning opportunities with Penn Medicine’s support, via the McKay Orthopaedic Research Lab’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee’s conference grant program.

McKay’s DEI committee — consisting of faculty, post-docs, graduate students, and staff — offers a welcoming environment and resources that support people of all identities, empowering them to bring forward unique perspectives to orthopaedic research.

“Our goal is to improve diversity and culture both within McKay and in the orthopaedic research community outside of Penn,” said Sarah Gullbrand, PhD, a research assistant professor at the McKay Lab. “We wanted to provide an opportunity for students to attend a conference and make connections to help them pursue their interest in orthopaedic research.”

The McKay conference grant supports undergraduate students who have been unable to get hands-on research experience. Participants are provided with the opportunity to network with leaders in the field of orthopaedic research, listen to cutting-edge research presentations, and learn about ways to get involved in orthopaedic research themselves.

“When launching the conference grant program earlier this year, I was motivated by my own experience attending a conference as an undergraduate. That experience really increased my interest in attending graduate school and taught me a lot about the breadth of research in orthopaedics,” said Hannah Zlotnick, a PhD student at the McKay Lab and member of the DEI committee. Through the McKay Conference Grants, the committee has supported two cohorts of students. “So far, we’ve been able to fund 11 undergraduate students from around the country to virtually attend orthopaedics conferences and receive early exposure to careers in STEM.”

Along with the conference grant, the McKay Lab holds workshops, book clubs, and other programs focused on DEI-related topics. As part of their efforts for promoting gender diversity in the field, the McKay Lab has previously partnered with the Perry Initiative to offer direct orthopaedic experiences for girls in high school, where they can learn how to suture, and perform mock fracture fixation surgeries on sawbones.

As a primarily male-populated field, orthopaedics could benefit greatly from diversity efforts. While women comprise approximately 50 percent of medical school graduates in the United States, they represent only 14 percent of orthopaedic surgery residents.

“The only women on staff at my orthopaedist’s office were receptionists. There were no female physicians or engineers to make my scoliosis brace,” Mahindroo said. “It was really cool coming to the McKay Lab and seeing how much the field has progressed since then.”

Read more at Penn Medicine News.

N.B. Hannah Zlotnick is a PhD student in Bioengineering studying in the lab of Robert Mauck, Mary Black Ralston Professor in Bioengineering and Orthopaedic Surgery.

BE Seminar: “Regenerative Engineering: Enabling Regenerative Medicine” (Guillermo Ameer)

Guillermo Ameer, D.Sc.

Speaker: Guillermo Ameer, D.Sc.
Daniel Hale Williams Professor of Biomedical Engineering & Surgery
McCormick School of Engineering
Northwestern University

Date: Thursday, September 16, 2021
Time: 3:30-4:30 PM EDT
Zoom – check email for link or contact ksas@seas.upenn.edu
Location: Moore Room 216, 200 S. 33rd Street

Abstract: Regenerative engineering is the convergence of advances in materials science, physical sciences, stem cell and developmental biology, and translational medicine to develop tools that enable the regeneration and reconstruction of tissue and organ function. I will describe how materials can be engineered to play a critical role in treating tissue and organ defects and dysfunction by promoting cellular processes that are conducive to regeneration. Applications of these materials to address the complications of diabetes and orthopaedic injuries will be discussed.

Guillermo Ameer Bio: Dr. Ameer is the Daniel Hale Williams professor of Biomedical Engineering and Surgery in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the McCormick School of Engineering and the Department of Surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. He is the founding director of the Center for Advanced Regenerative Engineering (CARE) and the Director of the NIH-funded Regenerative Engineering Training Program (RE-Training). He received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and his doctoral degree in chemical and biomedical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research interests include regenerative engineering, biomaterials, additive manufacturing for biomedical devices, controlled drug delivery and bio/nanotechnology for therapeutics and diagnostics.

Dr. Ameer’s laboratory pioneered the development and tissue regeneration applications of citrate-based biomaterials (CBB), the core technology behind the innovative bioresorbable orthopaedic tissue fixation devices CITREFIXTM, CITRESPLINETM, and CITRELOCKTM, which were recently cleared by the F.D.A for clinical use and marketed worldwide. CBBs are the first thermoset synthetic polymers used for implantable biodegradable medical devices. The co-founder of several companies, Dr. Ameer has approximately 300 publications and conference abstracts and over 55 patents issued and pending in 9 countries.

His awards include the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, the American Heart Association’s Established Investigator Award, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Eminent Chemical Engineer Award, the Key to the City of Panama, induction into the Academy of Distinguished Chemical Engineers (U. Texas Mcketta Dept. of Chemical Engineering), and the Society for Biomaterials Clemson Award for Contributions to the Literature. Dr. Ameer is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), a Fellow of the AIChE, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Fellow of the Materials Research Society, and a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors. Dr. Ameer is an Associate Editor for the AAAS journal Science Advances and the Regenerative Engineering and Translational Medicine journal; a member of the board of directors of the Regenerative Engineering Society; past board member of BMES and AIMBE; Chair of the AIMBE Awards Committee; Chair-elect of the College of Fellows of AIMBE; and a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of Acuitive Technologies, Inc.- a company that is bringing his biomaterial technologies to the musculoskeletal surgery market.