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AMProtection wins at TechSandBox Pitch Fest

Posted in Research

IGERT fellows Todd Alexander and Lindsay Lozeau were one of two startup companies to share first place at the recent TechSandbox Pitch Fest competition. Their share of the prize was $750 intended to help them bring their product to market.

The focus of the research done by Todd and Lindsay is to prevent infections that can be caused by urinary catheters. What they have developed is an antimicrobial coating whose active agent is covalently bound to the catheter, which will prevent bacteria from causing infection to the patient.

IGERT fellow Megan Chrobak Interns at Boston Scientific

Posted in Research

Megan Chrobak recently completed an internship at Boston Scientific and found that the position afforded a unique perspective while working through her PhD.

Megan worked with the Corporate Research team, whose focus is on “white space” research. This research requires the team to understand up and coming technologies, and provides them with an influential role in driving the company’s direction forward. This group works on a wide variety of project types, in numerous areas of focus. It is a small team with a heavy focus on innovation. As an IGERT student whose classes focused heavily on innovation, Megan found it incredibly helpful to see the concepts discussed in the classroom utilized in a company setting. While interning Megan had the opportunity to work on multiple project teams, and met many great people within the company. Beyond that, she had the opportunity to further develop her presentation skills, communication skills, writing abilities and networking skills. Megan found the internship an incredibly valuable experience and is grateful for this opportunity provided by the IGERT fellowship.

Megan would highly recommend any PhD student take advantage of the opportunity to intern while working towards their degree; especially at a great company like Boston Scientific!

IGERT Fellow Gershlak Acts as Rapporteur at National Academies Meeting

Posted in Research

IGERT Fellow Joshua Gershlak recently acted as rapporteur at the National Academies meeting on November 7, 2016. The meeting was the semi-annual roundtable meeting on Biomedical Engineering Materials and Applications (BEMA), where the roundtable was focused on biofabrication. Speakers included leaders in the field of biofabrication in academia, industry, and government. During the meeting, Gershlak took and later presented notes on all the speakers’ talks. Gershlak was applauded for his dutiful note-taking, ability to concisely summarize all the talks, and his analysis on the overarching themes from the meeting.  He represented the WPI IGERT program when dealing with the leaders of the field.  Josh studies biomedical engineering in the Gaudette Lab where he works on decellularization of different plant species in order to develop new, pre-vascularized, sustainable scaffolds for tissue engineering.


IGERT Fellow Dan Lawler expands his research at MRC, Cambridge, England

Posted in Research

IGERT Fellow Dan Lawler spent his summer expanding his research on sleep in C. elegans with Dr. William Schafer at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC) at the University of Cambridge England. He began behavioral screens to assess sleep of adult C. elegans containing mutations affecting neuromodulators in C. elegans. This includes the mammalian sleep implicated hormone melatonin, mutants of neuropeptide processing machinery and signaling components, and mutants shown to have altered arousal or developmental quiescence behavior. Mutants which show sleep abnormalities will be further studied to understand changes on the neural level using a behavioral and neural activity screening system developed this summer.

Frank Benesch-Lee conducts research at Novartis

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Frank Benesch –Lee completed a summer internship at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) in Cambridge, MA. The objective was the development of a functional research model to evaluate the effects of compounds on human skeletal muscles with Fascioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD). Fundamentally based on previous work performed in his startup company, this collaboration is meant to establish an active working relationship between Novartis and WPI and greatly benefits Frank’s experience at WPI in the mechano-biology lab of Prof. Kristen Billiar.

David Dolivo completes an internship at the NIH Clinical Center

Posted in Research

David Dolivo is thankful for the opportunity his summer internship provided him, which was, the opportunity to experience what it’s like to do research at the largest research hospital in the nation, the 3.4 million square foot National Institute of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. There, he worked under Dr. Levine and was able to witness true interdisciplinary research and translational science, bringing a perspective that only personal experience can furnish. Though most of David’s time was spent hard at work in the lab, he was also involved in everything from bioinformatics, to keeping up on the literature, to writing, to negotiating a clinical trial, to reviewing a manuscript, to attending lectures given by world-class intramural and extramural speakers. The experience David received at the NIH completments his research being done with Professor Dominko.


IGERT fellow Anthony D’Amico conducts research at University of Sheffield

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Investigating Degree of Particle Melt at the Centre for Advanced Additive Manufacturing (AdAM)

Over this past summer IGERT fellow Anthony D’Amico work in the Centre for Advanced Additive Manufacturing (AdAM) at the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, UK. Selective laser sintering (SLS) which is a widely commercially available additive manufacturing (AM) method applicable to both polymeric and metallic powders. As with almost all AM methods, SLS builds up parts layer by layer. At each layer, a laser scans across a powder bed to melt a pre-determined pattern. The melt then re-solidifies, forming a layer. In high speed sintering (HSS), print heads lay down ink in a pre-determined pattern and a lamp then heats the powder bed. Because the inked powder absorbs more radiation than un-inked powder, the inked pattern melts and then re-solidifies to form a layer. For semi-crystalline polymers the crystallinity of the built part and the powder used can be different. Ideally the built part would consist only of powder particles that had melted completely and recrystallized, leading to uniform crystallinity throughout the part; however this is not the case in practice. A portion of many of the powder particles remains un-melted throughout the build process. Upon recrystallization, this leads to a bulk phase with one crystallinity and un-melted cores with a different crystallinity. The mismatch in properties can weaken parts and cause failure.

To study this phenomenon, the idea of degree of particle melt (DPM) has been developed. DPM is the mass fraction of the melted phase of the final part. For parts with multiple semi-crystalline phases, different melting occurs at multiple temperatures and with multiple enthalpies of melting. By analyzing the melt peaks observable in a differential scanning calorimetry curve (DSC), the DPM can be determined. Anthony’s work over this past summer looked at how DPM varies both with characteristic length of parts printed (to examine the impact of variance in heat transfer with part size) and with changes in several process parameters. In particular he varied the amount of ink deposited, the temperature the build bed was held at, and the layer height used for the build. He found that DPM does not vary significantly with characteristic length. This indicates sacrificial test samples built during a larger part build can be tested and will be representative of the properties of the part being built. For variations in process parameters, DPM varies significantly only with changes in layer height. This indicates the current baseline parameters used provide resilience in properties even if variations occur during the build.


Todd Alexander and Lindsay Lozeau win the inaugural Hitchcock Innovation Prize

Posted in Research

The Foisie School of Business hosted the inaugural Hitchcock Innovation Prize this spring.  The Prize, founded by Jeremy Hitchcock ’04 and Elizabeth Cash Hitchcock ’02, provides a $20,000 stipend to support further business concept development of a new product, service or technology, or new technology-based businesses or social ventures, created by WPI students possessing the entrepreneurial mindset to produce tomorrow’s leading technology innovations. WPI students were invited to submit materials to the Collaborative for Entrepreneurship & Innovation for consideration to be awarded the title “Hitchcock Fellow” and the cash prize.

Fourteen teams comprised of thirty-one diverse students participated this year. Seven judges with strong ties to the entrepreneurship and innovation culture at WPI reviewed application materials.   Applications were evaluated based on eight criteria:  the problem statement, customer definition, product definition, impact on society, plans to sustain revenue for operations, the innovation itself, the team makeup and progress the team has made together.

Weighing these criteria, the judges agreed to award this year’s Hitchcock Innovation Prize to AMProtection, submitted by Todd Alexander and Lindsay Lozeau.  AMProtection provides an antimicrobial coating for urinary catheters that will prevent infection without promoting antimicrobial resistance. The team has conducted over 130 customer interviews to ensure product-market fit and has indeed found interest in the product through preliminary discussions with potential customers at Boston Scientific, Bard, and Teleflex. Concerted efforts by Todd and Lindsay in securing mentoring and participation in entrepreneurship programs, such as the NSF IGERT program, has provided them with the background and experience they needed to present a competitive pitch and proposal.

IGERT fellow Josh Harvey conducts research at City University, London

Posted in Research

Josh is spending three months in London working on his research with Professor Panayiotis Kyriacou.

In his research Josh uses Photoplethysmography (PPG) which is a simple, low cost, and non-invasive optical technique for monitoring cardiopulmonary function. Current interest in this technology has extended beyond conventional heart rate and oxygen saturation monitoring. Many researchers have shown correlations between morphological parameters of the PPG and cardiovascular disorders such as atherosclerosis, arterial endothelial dysfunction, and hypertension. However, these correlations should be observed with caution as the measurement conditions can significantly affect PPG readings. One condition, contact pressure (CP), is the pressure the probe applies to the measured tissue and is known to affect signal fidelity. Historically, CP has been observed to affect PPG pulse amplitude and signal-to-noise ratio, but an in-depth analysis of its effect on PPG morphology is missing from the available literature. Therefore, our current study collects PPG data from healthy individuals at varying contact pressures. The hypothesis is that PPG morphological parameters will be significantly affected by CP changes and that CP should be measured when using PPG to extract cardiovascular indices.