Regenerative Scaffold Technologies for CNS and Diabetes

Project: Research project

Project Details


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Northwestern University's Bioengineering Research Partnership (BRP) is comprised of investigators in the fields of neurology, surgery, endocrinology, materials science, chemistry, and biomedical and chemical engineering and is focused on central nervous system regeneration (CNS) and cell replacement therapy for diabetes. The BRP's general aims are to: (i) develop fundamental technologies to more sophisticated levels in an environment where feedback is provided by clinical investigators; (ii) cross breed and integrate four basic technologies to generate hybrid ones that can be clinically translated; (iii) make the technologies available for in vitro and in vivo testing in models of CNS regeneration and diabetes; and (iv) facilitate the mechanisms for iterative modification of the technologies in a team environment based on biological results and clinical insight. Dr. Galina Smushkin, a medical resident, plans to pursue a career in endocrinology research. The proposed project will integrate her into the BRP team, allowing her to gain valuable research training and experience and to perform novel research at the interface of material science, diabetes, and stem cell biology. The proposed hypothesis is that self-assembling nanofibrils can be used to deliver bioactive molecules to help direct differentiation of embryonic stem (ES) cells into insulin-secreting cells. This hypothesis will be tackled in the following specific aims: (1) developing a novel means to deliver either growth factors or DNA encoding a transcription factor using self-assembling nanofibrils; and (2) enhancing the differentiation of murine ES cells into insulin-secreting using these self-assembling nanofibrils. Dr. Smushkin will be co-mentored by the BRP PI, Sam Stupp, Ph.D., a materials scientist who leads the BRP interdisciplinary research team, and by a BRP Co-l, William Lowe., M.D., an endocrinologist studying cell replacement therapy for diabetes. Dr. Stupp will train the applicant in all experimental details related to the use of synthetic nanostructures, and Dr. Lowe will guide her in the areas of diabetes and stem cell biology. Dr. Smushkin's work will benefit from close interactions with the entire BRP team of investigators and their cross-discipline expertise. She will not only acquire new research training, skills and insights, but she will also be exposed to cutting edge, collaborative, and multidisciplinary environments and practices driving and shaping the scientists of tomorrow.
Effective start/end date9/4/048/31/09


  • National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (R01 EB003806)


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