BME students stand out during the 36th Edward F. Hayes Graduate Research Forum

Posted: April 15, 2022
Graduate Students Participating in Hayes Forum Luncheon
BME Graduate Students at the 36th Hayes Forum Luncheon

The 36th Edward F. Hayes Forum was held on March 4, 2022. The Hayes Graduate Research Forum showcases the innovative and exemplary research being conducted by Ohio State graduate students and postdoctoral scholars across the full range of graduate degree programs and facilitates fruitful exchanges between students, faculty, the administration, and the public.  Cash prizes, totaling more than $14,000, will be awarded to the top-judged presentations in each academic area. The Forum is co-sponsored by the Council of Graduate Students, the Graduate School, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, and the Enterprise for Research, Innovation, and Knowledge with organizational and operational support from the Office of Student Life

Congratulations to the following two Biomedical Engineering (BME) graduate students for placing at this year’s Hayes Forum:

Nina Tang - 1st Place Oral Presentation in the Engineering category titled "Non-Viral Reprogramming of Diseased Intervertebral Disc Cells via Engineered Extracellular Vesicles reverts Pathogenesis of Low Back Pain: An In-Vivo Study." During the presentation Nina discussed "Chronic Low Back Pain (LBP) is a leading cause of disability worldwide with socioeconomic burdens exceeding over $100 Billion Annually in the United States alone. However, there are currently no therapies that target a major underlying cause of LBP, degeneration of the intervertebral disc (IVD). This study uses a novel mouse model of IVD degeneration to study the efficacy of delivering therapeutic factors to the diseased discs using engineered extracellular vesicles. Treatment demonstrated changes in pain behavior along with repair of critical intervertebral structure and function and is a potential minimally invasive and non-addictive treatment for patients suffering from LBP." Nina is advised by Dr. Devina Purmessur (Assistant Professor in BME), and co-authors include; Ana I Salazar-Puerta(BME), Mary Heimann (BME), Connor Gantt (BME), Tiffany Ko (Molecular Genetics), Lucy Bodine (MSE), Kyle Kychynsky (BME), Damien Laudier (Icahn School of Medicine), Safdar Khan (College of Medicine), Judith Hoyland (University of Manchester), Benjamin Walter (BME), Natalia Higuita Castro & Devina Purmessur.

Srija Chakraborty - 1st Place poster in the Math and Physical Science and Engineering category titled "Enhancing natural killer cell homing to melanoma organoids in a tumor-on-a-chip platform via induction of tumor cell-secreted chemokines." The poster dicussed "Treatment of cancer cells with cell cycle inhibitor drugs like Alisertib (ALS), Abemaciclib (ABE), and Palbociclib can slow tumor progression by rendering tumor cells senescent. Our data suggests that this manipulation then causes some tumor cells to secrete chemokines which we hypothesize enhance NK cell homing towards tumor cells, hence boosting effector function and immunotherapeutic efficacy. Thus, by utilizing the chemokine production in tumor cells via chemotherapies and using bioengineered tumor organoids and a microfluidic device-based Natural Killer cell-containing Tumor-on-a-Chip (NK-TOC) platforms, we aim to demonstrate improved efficacy of NK cell homing towards and killing of 3D tumor organoids." Srija is advised by Dr. Aleksander Skardal (Assistant Professor, BME, OSUCCC), and co-authors include; Anna Vilgelm (Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology, OSUCCC), Alexander Davies (Assistant Professor, Department of Veterinary Biosciences, OSUCCC), Vijaya Bharti (BME).

We would also like to give an honorable mention to the following BME grad students for their participation in the Hayes Forum:

Luke Lemmerman - Oral Presentation in the Engineering category titled "Pancreatic Islet-like Cells Derived from Fibroblasts using Non-Viral Direct Cell Reprogramming." Luke's presentation talked about "The presented research describes preliminary results for a novel method to potentially “reprogram” skin cells into pancreatic beta-like to provide an alternative cell source to one day treat individuals with type I diabetes. Type I diabetes is driven by the autoimmune destruction of pancreatic β cells and resulting decrease in insulin production. To address this issue, the current “gold standard procedure” to obtain insulin-independence for patients with type I diabetes is allogenic beta transplantation (i.e., receiving beta cells from a cadaveric donor). While this therapy is promising, it has several limitations including a lack of availability in beta cells to be donated. The goal of this research is to develop a method to induce skin cells to be “reprogrammed” into pancreatic beta-like cells to address this need. To do this, we identified a unique combination of genetic regulatory factors that, when delivered to mouse skin cells, can induce these skin cells to increase insulin gene expression – the first step in “reprogramming” these cells. Additional studies are now being performed to examine if these “reprogrammed” cells are also producing insulin at the protein level and, if so, whether they function similar to that of a normal pancreatic beta cell." Luke is advised by Dr. Gallego-Perez and co-authors include; Lilibeth Ortega-Pineda, Sarah Tersey, Adia Holtman, Andrew Gotschall, Aidan Maxwell, Sriya Avadhanam, Jordan Deguzman, Raghavendra G. Mirmira, Natalia Higuita-Castro, Daniel Gallego-Perez.

Sunny Kwok - Oral Presentation in the Engineering category titled "3D Peripapillary Retina Thickness Mapping Using High-Frequency Ultrasound." Sunny's presentation talked about how "Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness that affects millions of people worldwide. The exact mechanism of Glaucoma pathophysiology is not well understood, but the outcome revolves around the damage and death of retinal ganglion cells at the back of the eye. Clinically, this leads to a reduction in the retina thickness and worsening of the patient visual acuity. The primary goal of our presented work is to validate a novel technique that enables 3D thickness mapping of the peripapillary retinal layer using high-frequency ultrasound. Ultrasound is a commonly used clinical imaging modality that shows promise for ophthalmic applications due to its optimal combination of image resolution and imaging depth. As validation, we collected 3D image volumes of two donor human eyes, effectively a case study between normal and Glaucoma conditions. Segmentation and volume thickness mapping were shown to be effective methods of characterizing the morphology of the retina layer. Our results indicate that our 3D ultrasound technique is capable of characterizing major differences between the normal and Glaucoma eye. Furthermore, we were able to identify regional differences matching that of clinically observed pathological patterns of Glaucoma development. With the successful implementation of our technique as presented, we are preparing for additional studies to expand the morphological assessment of critical posterior ocular structures." Sunny is advised by Dr. Jun Liu and co-authors for this presentation include; Dr. Jun Liu and Ahmad Adhwala.