Bioengineering Opportunities and Leadership Training (BOLT) Camp

We just wrapped up the first session of our Bioengineering Opportunities and Leadership Training (BOLT) Camp, and it was an amazing week! Students from all over Colorado came to the Anschutz Campus for 4 days packed full of hands-on learning.

BOLT campers did everyBOLT Group photo June 2018thing from learning to solder, to building optical heart rate monitors, to running tissue engineering experiments. They got to visit the roof of Children’s Hospital to check out the specially engineered pediatric Flight For Life helicopter, and they learned about anatomy and the human body from the Anschutz AHEC Anatomy team. Throughout the week, students heard from clinicians, researchers, students, and faculty on all facets of bioengineering. In between all of this, students prototyped their own engineering solutions to real clinical problems. The whirlwind week of learning and fun ended with design presentations to a panel of judges, camp awards, and an ice cream social.

Students left BOLT with a greater understanding of the field of bioengineering, applicable knowledge and practical lab skills, and hopefully even more passion for STEM than before! Now it’s time for the team to prep for the next group – BOLT Session Two starts in less than a month!

Bioengineering undergraduate student El-Batal receives UROP Grant

Hassan El-Batal, a junior in the Department of Bioengineering was recently awarded a 2018-2019 Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) mini grant while working in the Magin Lab.  The UROP is funded through the Colorado Clinical Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI).  This research collaboration focuses on the multiple particle tracking (MPT) and he will be programing a user-friendly graphical interface purposed for MPT.  This investigation and software design may help overcome limitations of studying mucociliary clearance (MCC) defects in preclinical animal models and answer questions about MCC dysfunction in pulmonary diseases.  As part of the award he looks forward to presenting their findings at the Research and Creative Activities Symposium (RaCAS).

 

Benninger’s lab gets published in Nature Communications

Associate Professor Richard Benninger and his lab recently published a research article in Nature Communications “Contrast-enhanced ultrasound measurement of pancreatic blood flow dynamics predicts type 1 diabetes progression in preclinical models”. Non-invasive techniques to assess the progression of type 1 diabetes prior to clinical onset are needed, both for disease diagnosis and for monitoring the efficacy of therapeutic reversal. The Benninger lab applied a contrast-enhanced ultrasound measurement of mouse pancreatic blood flow to detect changes in the islet microvasculature that undergoes rearrangements during diabetes. These measurements predicted both rapid disease progression as well as the success of therapeutic interventions to reverse disease progression. This study is particularly significant as both the widespread deloyment of ultrasound modalities and the clinical approval of ultrasound contrast agents will facilitate clinical translation for monitoring disease progression in populations at risk for type1 diabetes. This study was primarily supported by funding from the JDRF and NIH, and lead author Josh St Clair was funded by the “Cardiovascular Imaging and Biomechanics” T32 training program and an F32 NRSA postdoctoral fellowship.

Davidson selected to be a delegate for the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Training Program

Matthew Davidson, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr Bodine’s lab, was selected as a delegate for the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Advocacy Training Program. This externship will train Dr. Davidson to be an advocate for the life sciences at the federal and state level. This will provide him the tools to effect policy change and support science funding. 

 

Role of hydrodynamic forces on hemostasis

Maria Bortot, a third-year PhD candidate in the Department of Bioengineering and Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus, has been awarded the American Heart Association (AHA) predoctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Dr. Jorge DiPaola. Non-surgical bleeding (NSB) is a major complication among patients with aortic stenosis and end-stage heart failure supported by ventricular assist devices or blood pumps such as extracorporeal mechanical oxygenators. Although the mechanism for NSB amongst these patients is not clearly understood, it has been associated with acquired von Willebrand syndrome, a disorder characterized by lossBortot figure (2) of high molecular weight multimers of von Willebrand factor (VWF). It has been proposed, but not yet demonstrated, that the high shear stress associated with VADs and AS can cause VWF elongation, facilitating excessive cleavage by its main protease, ADAMTS-13. Maria’s project is focused on assessing the effects of fluid dynamics on VWF conformation, cleavage as well as platelet activation and receptor shedding. Maria obtained her BS in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Sydney, Australia. Then she was awarded a scholarship by the Argentinean  National Atomic Energy Commission in Argentina were she completed her Masters in Materials Engineering at Instituto Balserio, Universidad Nacional de  Cuyo. She was then awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and moved to the University of Colorado, AMC to first complete a the Masters program in Bioengineering before joining the DiPaola Laboratory to pursue her PhD.

Lennon receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program predoctoral fellowship 

Mallory Lennon, a second-year PhD candidate in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus, has been awarded the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) predoctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Dr. Jeffrey Jacot, Associate Professor of bioengineering. Mallory’s project seeks to understand structural heart development in children born with only one ventricle in the heart, a birth defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), which occurs in about 1,800 births per year in the United States,has a survival rate of only 27% in the first year, and requires several surgeries over many years. Mallory will collect cells from amniotic fluid at the birth of infants with HLHS, make those cells into heart muscle in the laboratory using a recently published technique from the Jacot lab, and measure specific responses to the mechanical forces encountered during development. She expects that this understanding can be matched to genetic signaling and increase the prediction and diagnosis of HLHS as well as suggest future treatments. Mallory obtained her BS in Biomedical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She has previously been a recipient of the American Heart Association summer fellowship, and the TL1 (T32) Pre-doctoral Fellowship from the Colorado Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Kheyfets receives Research Career Development Award (K25) from NHLBI/NIH

Pulmonary Hypertension is a progressive disease that ultimately leads to right heart failure. This K25 award looks at the mechanical and biochemical interaction between the right and left heart, during the progression of this cardio-pulmonary disease. Both sides of the heart are both moving “pumps” that are physically connected to one another. The study utilizes magnetic resonance imaging, computational modeling, and gene expression analysis of animal tissue to establish two key concepts: (1) declining right heart function during pulmonary hypertension can be improved by targeting the left heart; and (2) the left heart can be targeted through genes that control the contraction speed of the left heart muscle. If this approach proves to be successful, it could lead to novel therapies for treating right heart failure in children with pulmonary hypertension.

 

BMES Coulter College 2017 Training Program Follow-up

CoulterCollege2017Kailey Beck, Matt Kiselevach, Vinh Pham and Mackenzie Wilderman traveled with Senior Design Instructor Casey Howard to Coulter College in Atlanta, Georgia at the beginning of August. Coulter College is a workshop (a crash-course of sorts) focused on teaching students how to develop commercially viable device solutions to unmet needs. This year students prepared a summer homework assignment and all the students were excited to work together in a team to represent CU Denver. When the workshop started however, everyone learned that teams would be scrambled and each Coulter College team would be made up of students from 4 different institutions from around the country and that each team would be advised by a faculty member from yet a different institution. 

The CU Denver students all focused on developing solutions in the same ‘need area’ which was: helping alleviate issues with access to healthcare for individuals with disabilities in low resource settings. The student teams worked tirelessly for 3 days to develop and refine concepts and business models. The concepts evolved through conversations with experts, clinicians and industrial designers. The students also learned about topics such as Intellectual Property, medical device reimbursement, funding and business models, clinical trials, and regulatory pathways.

The teams gave a concept pitch on day 2 and a final 8 minute venture-style pitch on the concluding day of the conference. Prizes were awarded in each need area. All of the CU students and teams came up with interesting solutions tackling various issues including pressure sores and beyond. Mackenzie Wilderman and her team won both pitch contests in their ‘need area’.

This experience should provide a great foundation to help the students in their capstone design experience this academic year.