April 2016

Science and engineering students have a knack for solving problems. Often the problems are real-life and the solutions life-saving. The 72 submissions at the Poster Session held at ASME’s NEMB 2016 conference in Houston, February 21-24, showed how bioengineering students are integrating engineering, materials science, and nanotechnology to address some of the fundamental problems in biology and medicine.

From using nanoparticles for controlled release of antibiotics to fluorescence imaging of breast cancer, the session highlighted the breadth of student research in nanomedicine. It also provided an opportunity for the students to interact with scientists and engineers attending NEMB and build their professional network.

Besides networking, participation in poster sessions helps students in many ways, says Emily Day, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at University of Delaware, who was one of the judges of the session. “First, by giving them the opportunity to present their work, students can practice theirpublic speaking skills, which will be useful throughout their career. Second, through the interactions that occur at the poster session, the students can gain feedback on their work that may lead to subsequent important breakthroughs,” she says.

According to Day, the judges scored the posters in three categories: visual presentation, technical content, and delivery. Out of the 72 submissions, three winners and two runners-up were selected. Below are five innovative ideas that gained the top ranking.

First place winner Sixiang Shi with judges Emily Day of the University of Delaware (right), and David Juncker of McGill University (left).

1. Nanotechnology has tremendous potential for cancer imaging and therapy. First place winner Sixiang Shi, a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, presented his group’s research on generalized syntheses of tumor targeted multifunctional nanosystems. The goal was to develop an applicable protocol for these multifunctional nanosystems, to combine positron emission tomography with other imaging modalities for image-guided drug delivery. He described that by introducing tumor vasculature targeting, these nanosystems will benefit from reduced side-effects and enhanced therapeutic efficacy.

2. The second place winner focused on nanofluidic controlled delivery, which offers potential solutions in applications including drug delivery, desalination, and filtration. Presented by R. Lyle Hood, a postdoctoral fellow at the Houston Methodist Research Institute, the study covered a set of experiments providing characterization of nanofluidic diffusion with a model cation and anion through nanochannels. This study highlighted the relevance of nanofluidic systems as tools for investigating novel transport phenomena and demonstrated the potential for controlled delivery of clinically relevant ions.

The poster session provided an opportunity for the students to interact with the attendees at NEMB and build their professional network.



3. A graduate student of Washington State University, Darius Saadat-Moghaddam, bagged the third place for his research aimed at addressing the challenge of rapidly identifying genetic information. According to the study, unlike other amplification-based detection methods, a nanoelectronic sensor, single-walled carbon nanotubes modified nanostructured needle, is capable of rapidly detecting small amounts of DNA. Since the nanoelectronic sensor does not require nucleic acid amplification, it is significantly faster and simpler than other approaches.

4. The small size of nanoparticles allows for preferential accumulation in tumors due to enhanced permeability and retention effect. Wake Forest School of Medicine’s Postdoctoral Fellow Sneha Kelkar and her group has developed polymer dynamic organic theranostic spheres (PolyDOTS), which are near-infrared fluorescent and generate hyperthermia upon 800 nm laser irradiation. Kelkar described how PolyDOTS can be of great use to highlight solid tumors, tumor margins, and micro-metastasis during surgery.

5. University of Buffalo’s graduate student Haoyuan Huang’s research shed light on inherent optical properties that make porphyrin and its derivatives suitable probes for imaging. The chelation of metals improves the optical skills of porphyrins and the derivatives, and makes metallo-porphyrins optimal probes for different imaging techniques. Huang’s presentation introduced a new finding of porphyrin-PEG conjugation polymer working as probes for detecting renal system functions and diseases.

Bioengineers provide a unique perspective that enables them to design innovative solutions to various challenges in healthcare. According to Emily, who was very impressed by the students’ work, “One of the most rewarding aspects of being a bioengineer is knowing that the tools/strategies you create may substantially benefit human lives. I think this potential to positively impact human health is the biggest reason the field of bioengineering is rapidly gaining popularity.”

Learn how cutting-edge nanoengineering research continues to fuel advances in biomedical at ASME’s NEMB Conference.


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