Congratulations Class of 2017!

Seniors_Spring2017.jpg

With the graduation of the class of 2017 comes the culmination of a vision nearly a decade in the making. The Department of Bioengineering celebrated the graduation of the inaugural undergraduate class. Welcoming friends and family to join in the festivities, the department hosted a banquet to acknowledge the accomplishments of each senior and their contributions to the program.

The fifteen graduates from the program have set high standards for their predecessors, with students continuing to industry, graduate programs, medical school, and even MD/PhD programs. Throughout their time as undergraduates, many students have excelled in undergraduate research. Others placed into competitive industry internships, linking them with full-time offers after graduation. As the bioengineering graduates of 2017 end their time on the Anschutz Medical Campus, some students will stay local and begin their professional careers, while others are relocating across the country.

The Department of Bioengineering is grateful is have such a dedicated and incredible inaugural class and looks forward to all they will accomplish in the future.

2017 BMES Coulter College Training Program awarded to Howard and team

Coulter College is a BMES program that is focused on translation research. The University of Colorado Denver Bioengineering team was accepted into the program for 3 days this summer in Atlanta. The team is made up of in-coming seniors: Vinh Pham, Kailey Beck, Mackenzie Wilderman and Matt Kiselevach with Casey Howard, one of the senior design faculty. The team will learn about the innovation process and the steps to commercialization of medical devices and technologies. Topics such as intellectual property, regulatory approval processes, reimbursement and business model development.

Benninger receives JDRF Innovation Grant

Richard Benninger, Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, has been awarded a Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Innovation award entitled “Non-Invasive Imaging of Pancreas Blood Flow Redistribution to Assess Insulitis and Islet Decline in Type1 Diabetes”. Type1 diabetes involves autoimmune destruction of insulin producing beta cells in the pancreas. As a result, lifelong insulin therapy is required, with significant elevation in the risk of diabetic complications including blindness, kidney disease, and cardiovascular diseases. There are currently no clinical approaches to monitor the ongoing decline in beta cells prior to clinical presentation of diabetes, as well as to monitor the success of any preventative treatment. This JDRF Innovation award will build upon recent findings in the Benninger Research Group showing that contrast enhanced ultrasound can detect changes in islet microvascular function in animal models during the preclinical stage of type1 diabetes progression. Specifically it will validate whether the success of preventative therapeutic treatments can be predicted early, prior to diabetes onset. It will also investigate ways to translate this approach to clinical testing. Ultimately the goal is to develop a means to improve the early diagnosis of underlying disease development and enable successful treatments to prevent diabetes.

Six bioengineering students awarded UROP grants

The Office of Undergraduate Experiences announced the next round of Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) recipients.  UROP is a competitive program designed to financially support undergraduate research, most broadly understood as including all creative and other scholarly activities.  The goal of UROP is to provide an opportunity to extend learning outside the traditional classroom, laboratory, or studio.

Congratulations to Kateryna Biryukova, Ryan Gerstenberger, Alexander Ho, Cameron Mattson, Damon Pool and Robert Wood who received these awards.

Kateryna Biryukova will use the immortalized human derived SH-SY5Y cell line to develop protocols and methodology for printing neurons using a 3D bioprinter. Differentiated SH-SY5Y cells acquire morphological and biochemical characteristics of mature neurons, thus providing means to generate a cost-effective reproducible model of bioprinting neural cells. This research is a part of Dr. Lammer’s open source 3D bioprinter project.

Ryan Gerstenberger will be working on a joint project between Children’s Hospital Colorado physician Stephen Hawkins and Department of Bioengineering Instructor Jennifer Wagner.   The title of his project is 3D Printed Custom Mask for Pediatric Sleep Apnea Therapy.  Ryan will work to create a method for producing patient specific, pediatric, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) masks.

Alexander Ho will investigate pelvic anatomy and geometry, and tissue deformation using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on 20 adults who have used a wheelchair for at least 3 years. Pressure ulcers have negative consequences for the health, activities of daily living, employment, and quality of life for wheelchair users.  The results of the study could lead to methods for reducing the incidence rate and severity of pressure ulcers, and improvements in wheelchair seating design.  Alexander will be working with Dr. Levin Sliker in Assistive Technology Partners (ATP), Dept. of Bioengineering.

Cameron Mattson’s research project is titled “Development of volume-changing shape memory polymer as a gutta percha filling material in root canals.”  This research is an important first step to develop a replacement of the gutta percha using a shape memory polymer. He will conduct this research under the guidance of Dr. Daewon Park, Assistant Professor in Bioengineering.

Damon Pool, an undergrad (and future BS-MS student) working with Dr. Jeffrey Jacot in his research laboratory. He will be investigating whether including native heart extracellular matrix in an electrospun heart patch material can enhance the attachment, migration and viability of heart cells.

Robert Wood will study the mechanical and physiological impacts of constant-flow left ventricular assist devices on the proximal Aorta. He will be working with Dr. Kendall Hunter (BioE) and Dr. Amrut Ambardekar (SOM Cardiology).

Smith awarded NIH Pathway to Independence Award (R00) from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

bradford-smith-head-shotDr. Bradford Smith, Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering was awarded $747,000 over three years to study The Importance of Inhomogeneity in the Pathogenesis of Lung Injury (NIH R00 HL128944). This work is motivated by Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), a condition that causes more deaths per year than breast or prostate cancer. Treatment for ARDS is based around supportive mechanical ventilation, but this can cause ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI) and worsen outcomes. The major obstacle to developing personalized mechanical ventilation strategies that prevent VILI is an incomplete understanding of the microscale fluid-mechanical forces responsible for injury. In the proposed research, Dr. Smith will investigate the role of alveolar interdependence in the parenchymal stress balance and VILI pathogenesis. A detailed understanding of the stresses and strains that cause VILI will improve the treatment of ARDS and thus reduce mortality for a significant number of people.

Qualcomm CTA Bioengineering Junior Investigator/Fellowship Program: Assistive Technology for Disability and Aging

The purpose of this $50,000 Foundation grant is to inaugurate the CTA/Qualcomm Assistive Technology Fellowship/Young Investigator program within the Department of Bioengineering, University of Colorado, to build research capacity, knowledge utilization and dissemination and industry partnerships leading to technology transfer. Dr. Cathy Bodine will serve as the Principle Investigator and Dr. Levin Sliker will serve as the inaugural Fellow.

Short-term results include the establishment of a CTA/Qualcomm Fellow/Young Investigator program at the University of Colorado, Department of Bioengineering focused on Assistive Technology for persons with disabilities and seniors; development and execution of a research agenda by the Fellow; and the development and launch of an Industry Advisory Council to facilitate knowledge transfer.

The long-term results include knowledge dissemination, utilization, and potential technology transfer to industry.  Access by both parties to state-of-the-art information related to improved device design and ongoing and developing technology needs for seniors and persons with disabilities will lead to increased access to needed technologies and to opportunities for new discoveries.

Building reciprocal relationships between industry and university researchers has the potential to create a pipeline for students from internships and employment to opportunities for joint research and development work in the future.

Three engineering students receive UROP mini grants

This fall, the Office of Undergraduate Experiences offered a second 2016 round of Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) grants.  UROP is a competitive program designed to financially support undergraduate research, most broadly understood as including all creative and other scholarly activities.  The goal of UROP is to provide an opportunity to extend learning outside the traditional classroom, laboratory, or studio.

Three students from the college received one of these mini grants. Congratulations to Aimee Lam, bioengineering; Jackson Osborn, electrical engineering; and Adam Rauff, bioengineering.

Bioengineering Undergraduates Awarded ARCS Scholarships

Three bioengineering undergraduate students, Jacob Altholz, Samantha Muse, and Rachelle Walter, were awarded ARCS scholarships this semester. ARCS is dedicated to “Advancing Science in America,” and annually awards scholarships through university departments of science and engineering. The BIOE students were selected by the ARCS Foundation Colorado Chapter’s scholarship committee for being the highest performing students as well as having the highest rankings by the committee. These rankings are based on the student’s transcript, resume, and application essay. The students and their accomplishments were celebrated during the Chapter’s annual luncheon on the Anschutz Medical Campus on Wednesday, November 2.

Congratulations again to Jacob, Samantha, and Rachelle!

Pitch Night, Another Great Success for BMES!

To meet the diverse interests of both our undergraduate and graduate students BMES hosts events to facilitate collaboration between industry partners, medical professionals, and researchers. pitchnight3_oct2016We often find that there are many unmet needs and concepts that require the expertise of a bioengineer, however, many of these opportunities are missed. Pitch Night offers a platform for potential PI’s to recruit students for projects and research opportunities.  In these five minute pitches, presenters pitched ideas in basic science, translational/clinical medicine, and device engineering. We’ve found that our students are able to learn more about cutting edge research and industry opportunities as well as the variety of research happening on this campus. In doing so we are able to help match our students with opportunities that interest them and meet the needs of potential PI’s.  The goal is to match graduate students with projects, provide research opportunities to upperclass undergraduates, and reveal potential avenues of study freshman and sophomores.

CU Anschutz and CU Boulder scientists receive NIH OT2OD023852 award

Weir Headshot 142x212.jpgRichard Weir, Associate Research Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, and colleagues receive funding to develop an Optical Probe capable of Activating/Reporting on axon activity in nerves of parasympathetic nervous system.  Current neuro-modulation approaches for the vagus nerve (aka parasympathetic nervous system) are generally all or nothing events that cause simultaneous changes in heart rate, for example, along with changes in pancreatic function. Our goal for this project is to develop a novel compact Optogenetic based Optical Probe capable of optically neuromodulating individual afferent and/or efferent axons within nerves of the parasympathetic, or peripheral, nervous system. We seek to read-in or read-out from these nerves with the goal of modulating the organs or brain circuits innervated by them.

Our central premise is that we can use optics to communicate with axons in a nerve. For optical approaches to work we need to convert action potentials into an optical signal. This can be done using reporter proteins or by some other means that is ancillary to action potential generation. Because nerves do not naturally express optical proteins, we will work with transgenic mice that express these proteins and use these mice to refine our system before making it available for other researchers to use. We are proposing to couple an optical fiber with an electrowetting lens head to allow remote interrogation of the vagus nerve with a bench top (i.e. portable) laser system. Integration of miniature (1mm diameter) scale electrowetting electrically tunable optics with an optical fiber-based imaging system will enable two-photon fluorescence imaging of neuron activity by readout of a fluorescent indicator.

We will work with collaborators in the field of pancreatic research to test, refine and demonstrate our ability to activate/report from in-vitro mouse vagus nerves and to see if we can control and/or sense pancreatic responses in the absence of other responses, such as a change in heart rate, using targeted neuro-modulation of specific axons in the vagus in in-vivo transgenic mice experiments.