Biomedical Engineering News

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Re-engineering cancerous tumors to self-destruct and kill drug-resistant cells


Treating cancer can sometimes feel like a game of Whac-A-Mole. The disease can become resistant to treatment, and clinicians never know when, where and what resistance might emerge, leaving them one step behind. But a team led by Penn State researchers has found a way to reprogram disease evolution and design tumors that are easier to treat.

Six engineering undergrads earn Graduate Research Fellowships


Six College of Engineering baccalaureate graduates have been selected for the U.S. National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP). Four engineering graduates were also named honorable mentions for the NSF-GRFP.

Self-assembling, highly conductive sensors could improve wearable devices


To advance soft robotics, skin-integrated electronics and biomedical devices, researchers at Penn State have developed a 3D-printed novel material for use in sensors that is soft and stretchable — important traits for matching the properties of tissues and organs —and that self-assembles. Their approach employs a process that eliminates many of the drawbacks of previous fabrication methods, such as less conductivity or device failure.

From rock climbing to dining, students use engineering to improve accessibility


A capstone course taught in the spring of 2024 focused specifically on adaptive technology, which is a device or piece of technology designed to provide physical or cognitive assistance.

Amir Sheikhi chosen to serve on NIH Biomaterials and Biointerfaces Study Section


Amir Sheikhi, assistant professor of chemical engineering and Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Early Career Chair in Biomaterials and Regenerative Engineering, was invited to serve as a member of the Biomaterials and Biointerfaces Study Section of the Bioengineering Sciences & Technologies Integrated Review Group, which is part of the Center of Scientific Review for the National Institutes of Health.

GAP funding paves the way for research to move from lab to market


Four projects were recently awarded Penn State Commercialization GAP funding. The GAP Fund, formerly known as the Fund for Innovation, aims to accelerate the development of promising research across the University by closing the funding gaps between proof-of-concept research and readiness for commercialization.

Why is breaking down plant material for biofuels so slow?


Cellulose, which helps give plant cell walls their rigid structure, holds promise as a renewable raw material for biofuels — if researchers can accelerate the production process. New research led by Penn State investigators has revealed how several molecular roadblocks slow this process.

Comprehensive scholarship program graduates first class of engineering leaders


In 2020, the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation committed $15.5 million to create the A. James Clark Scholars Program in the College of Engineering to support high-achieving engineering students with significant financial need. This spring, the first cohort of A. James Clark Scholars will graduate from the Penn State College of Engineering.

College of Engineering names student marshals for spring 2024 commencement


The Penn State College of Engineering has named its student marshals for the spring 2024 commencement ceremony.

Engineering student startups selected for $15,000 Invent Penn State program


Six Penn State startups, all of which were founded or co-founded by students in the College of Engineering, have been selected to participate in the 2024 Invent Penn State Summer Founders program.

Biological engineering student wins Rock Ethics Institute’s Stand Up Award


Penn State's Rock Ethics Institute has announced the winners of the 2024 Stand Up Awards for Undergraduate Ethical Leadership: Triniti Freeman, a third-year student majoring in nursing; Vancie Peacock, a fourth-year student majoring in biological engineering; and Jenna Seigworth, a fourth-year student majoring in English.

Scott Medina named Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences Leadership Fellow


For the 2024-25 academic year, the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences has appointed William and Wendy Korb Early Career Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Scott Medina to be a Huck Leadership Fellow.

Eight engineering graduate students honored with prestigious University awards


Eight College of Engineering graduate students were among the forty Penn State graduate students named recipients of Penn State’s most prestigious annual graduate student recognition awards.

Synthetic material could improve ease and cut cost of gut microbiome research


A team of Penn State researchers has developed a new synthetic material that could enable scientists to more easily study how microorganisms interact with the gastrointestinal (GI) system. The material might eventually provide a cheaper, more accessible way for researchers to screen drugs that impact gut infections, metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disorders.

Listen to your gut: Using microbiota analysis for precision health care


Penn State News spoke to Professor Pak Kin Wong about his recently published paper that discusses the methods available for incorporating microbiota analysis into clinical decision-making, the challenges of doing so and the need for new technologies to capitalize on the potential of microbiota’s role in medicine.

Two engineering faculty members receive 2024 Faculty Scholar Medals


Two engineering faculty members were among the six recipients of the 2024 Faculty Scholar Medals for Outstanding Achievement. Enrique Gomez, professor of chemical engineering in the College of Engineering and by courtesy materials science and engineering in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and Tak-Sing Wong, professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering, were both recognized with the award.

Two keys needed to crack three locks for better engineered blood vessels


Blood vessels engineered from stem cells could help solve several research and clinical problems, from potentially providing a more comprehensive platform to screen if drug candidates can cross from the blood stream into the brain to developing lab-grown vascular tissue to support heart transplants, according to Penn State researchers. Led by Xiaojun “Lance” Lian, associate professor of biomedical engineering and of biology, the team discovered the specific molecular signals that can efficiently mature nascent stem cells into the endothelial cells that comprise the vessels and regulate exchanges to and from the blood stream.

Twelve alumni recognized with College of Engineering’s highest honor


Twelve Penn State engineering graduates have been selected to receive the Penn State College of Engineering’s Outstanding Engineering Alumni Award.

Five engineering students finalists in Graduate School Three Minute Thesis contest


Five Penn State College of Engineering graduate students have been selected for the final round of the inaugural Penn State Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.

GPS nanoparticle platform precisely delivers therapeutic payload to cancer cells


A newly developed “GPS nanoparticle” injected intravenously can home in on cancer cells to deliver a genetic punch to the protein implicated in tumor growth and spread, according to researchers from Penn State. They tested their approach in human cell lines and in mice to effectively knock down a cancer-causing gene, reporting that the technique may potentially offer a more precise and effective treatment for notoriously hard-to-treat basal-like breast cancers.

Q&A with Larry Cheng: Monitoring neurological conditions in real time


A team of researchers led by Huanyu “Larry” Cheng, the James L. Henderson, Jr. Memorial Associate Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics (ESM) at Penn State, created a highly-sensitive and cost-effective sensor to better monitor the concentration of dopamine and tyrosine — a neurotransmitter and an amino acid, respectively, that are present in the brain — in sweat or urine.

Combining novel biomaterial and microsurgery might enable faster tissue recovery


For soft tissue to recover and regrow, it needs blood vessels to grow to deliver oxygen and nutrients. Sluggish vascularization, however, can slow or even prevent recovery and regrowth of lost or damaged soft tissue after a severe injury or serious illness such as cancer. To speed up the formation and patterning of new blood vessels, Penn State researchers have combined a novel biomaterial with a microsurgical approach used in reconstructive surgery, enabling improved recovery of soft tissue.

3D-printed skin closes wounds and contains hair follicle precursors


Fat tissue holds the key to 3D printing layered living skin and potentially hair follicles, according to researchers who recently harnessed fat cells and supporting structures from clinically procured human tissue to precisely correct injuries in rats. The advancement could have implications for reconstructive facial surgery and even hair growth treatments for humans.

Media mention: ‘A fly enters a virtual reality chamber, and insect science may never be the same’


An article in the journal Science discusses a recently published study led by Penn State researchers that investigated the optomotor response in flies. The article focuses on the work of Jean-Michel Mongeau, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and of biomedical engineering, and mechanical engineering doctoral student Benjamin Cellini.

Summer Translational Cardiovascular Science Institute now accepting applications


The Penn State Summer Translational Cardiovascular Science Institute (STCSI) program is accepting applications from now until March 1. The program is open to any undergraduate student with a demonstrated interest in cardiovascular science.

Predicting correct dosage may improve success of drug repurposing


To improve the success rate of drug repurposing and determine effective treatment doses, the Penn State researchers developed a model that predicts effective doses for repurposed drugs.

Pak Kin Wong elected member of European Academy of Sciences and Arts


Pak Kin Wong, professor of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering, was elected a member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts in class VI – Technical and Environmental Sciences.

Biomedical engineering student receives presentation award at conference


Sonika Kohli, a biomedical engineering undergraduate student and Schreyer Honors Scholar at Penn State, received an Outstanding Presentation Award at the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Scientists.

Spinning up control: Propeller shape helps direct nanoparticles, researchers say


Self-propelled nanoparticles could potentially advance drug delivery and lab-on-a-chip systems — but they are prone to go rogue with random, directionless movements. Now, researchers have developed an approach to rein in the synthetic particles.

Bacteria's mucus maneuvers: Study reveals how snot facilitates infection


Sniffles, snorts and blows of runny noses are the hallmarks of cold and flu season — and that increase in mucus is exactly what bacteria use to mount a coordinated attack on the immune system, according to a new study from researchers at Penn State. The team found that the thicker the mucus, the better the bacteria are able to swarm.

Researchers aim to streamline cancer therapy development process


Penn State biomedical engineering doctoral candidate Josh Reynolds, along with his research lab mates, are striving to overcome drug resistance and accelerate drug discovery efforts in the fight against cancer with their startup, Atlas Biotech.

Media mention: ‘Tiny bubbles could reveal immune cell secrets and improve treatments’


The National Science Foundation published a version of a Penn State article featuring the work of Scott Medina, William and Wendy Korb Early Career Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Penn State. The article discusses Penn State research that investigates a novel bubble-based technique to observe immune cells at work.

First rapid tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea exhibit 100% sensitivity


Dipanjan Pan, Penn State Dorothy Foehr Huck & J. Lloyd Huck Chair Professor in Nanomedicine and a professor of nuclear engineering and of materials science and engineering and of biomedical engineering, led a team that reported the first rapid tests for gonorrhea and chlamydia, built on a platform that could be adjusted to detect a variety of infections.

Females less likely to heal from ACL injuries than males


A new study led by Spencer Szczesny, associate professor of biomedical engineering and of orthopaedics and rehabilitation at Penn State, details why females are less likely to heal from injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL.

Nine newly promoted engineering faculty honored through library books


Nine newly tenured or promoted faculty members in the College of Engineering were asked to select a book title for the University Libraries’ permanent collection and to submit a personal statement explaining why they chose that book.

Nikki Crowley honored with Women in STEAM Award by the Whitaker Center


Nikki Crowley, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has been named a Women to Watch: Class of 2023 as part of the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts’ Women in STEAM Awards.

Novel hydrogel finds new aptamers, or ‘chemical antibodies,’ in days


A new method for selecting aptamers, or "chemical antibodies," created by Penn State engineers takes only days to complete, instead of the months needed for traditional methods.

Engineering graduate students recognized with University fellowships


The Graduate School at Penn State recognized 114 students as recipients of the 2023-24 University Graduate Fellowships and Distinguished Graduate Fellowships, including 22 students from the College of Engineering.

Tiny bubbles could reveal immune cell secrets and improve treatments


Macrophages are little cells vital to the immune system and could possibly inform cell-based therapies for a variety of medical conditions. However, realizing the full potential of macrophage therapies relies on being able to see what these cellular allies are doing inside our bodies, and a team of Penn State researchers may have developed a way to watch them do their thing.

Novel approach to engineered cells may enable molecular medical imaging


Lance Lian, associate professor of biomedical engineering and of biology at Penn State, led a team in developing a more efficient approach in engineering gas vesicles, tiny molecular structures that may be able to significantly improve medical imaging.

Five engineering student teams honored in national airport design competition


Five student teams from Penn State’s Engineering Leadership Development program in the School of Engineering Design and Innovation earned recognition in the 17th-annual University Design Competition for Addressing Airport Needs, sponsored by the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program.

Q&A: The neurology of slumbering whiskers


Penn State researchers published a paper in Communications Biology finding that sleep-related changes to blood flow in the brains of neonatal mice far outweigh any caused by sensory stirrings.

Stretchy integrated electronics may be possible with sandwiched semiconductor


An international team led by Penn State reserachers developed an approach to improve the mechanical stretchability of n-type semiconductors, which could lead to the advent of truly elastic electronic systems.

NIH grant to facilitate high-speed bioprinting of bones, tracheas, organs


The National Institute of Health awarded over $2 million to a team led by Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, professor of engineering science and mechanics, of biomedical engineering and of neurosurgery at Penn State, to quickly and efficiently bioprint human tissues at scale.

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