Four BME students selected as University Scholars for 2015-2016

Congratulations to Cory French, Hammad Huda, Corinna Peden and Anthony Sorrentino who were recently selected as College of Engineering University Scholars for 2015-2016! 

The University Scholars Program introduces undergraduate students at the University of Florida to the exciting world of academic research. In the program, students work one-on-one with UF faculty on selected research projects. Through this initiative, students will take away an understanding of and appreciation for the scholarly method. A competition is held each spring within participating colleges for the University Scholars awards of a $1750 stipend. The program will consist of undertaking a full research project during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year, under the guidance of a faculty member. The University Scholars Program serves as an exceptional capstone to the academic careers of UF students.

The response from students this year was very encouraging and the selection process was competitive. The College of Engineering selected its best students and we are proud to have Cory, Hammad, Corinna and Anthony represent the BME department in the cohort of University Scholars across 15 colleges!

Corey FrenchCory French
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Carlos Rinaldi

Research project description: Cory’s research aims to understand the rate and nature of accumulation of targeted magnetic nanoparticles within cell lysosomes. This will be achieved through the implementation of new quantitative approaches to electron paramagnetic spectroscopy that allow for the study of only the important magnetic content of particles and how it is affected by the internal environment of the cell. Ultimately, results will provide a basis for optimization of the timed delivery of energy to nanoparticles necessary for the induction lysosomal membrane permeabilization and associated cell death in cancerous tissues. 

Hammad HudaHammad Huda
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Christine Schmidt

Research project description: In this project, Hammad hopes to develop a proteogylcan-rich matrix for regenerating the Nucleus Pulposus component of the Intervertebral Disc. Ultimately, this will provide a valuable regenerative strategy for treating Low back pain.  To develop this immunologically tolerated matrix, he is working to optimize a decellularization process that can not only substantially remove cells, DNA, and antigens, but also maintain a significant level of chondroitin-sulfate proteogylcans (inhibit neurite growth into the disc). 

Corinna PedenCorinna Peden
Major: Biology
Mentor: Dr. Ayse Gunduz

Research project description: Impulse control disorder (ICD) is a commonly observed comorbidity of Parkinson’s disease (PD), occurring in approximately 6-18% of patients. It is characterized by failure to resist urges, temptations, or impulses that may be harmful (e.g., compulsive eating and pathological gambling). Impulsivity is thought to derive from a dysfunction in how the brain processes the outcomes of actions. To date, Dr. Gunduz’s lab has recorded single unit neuronal activity in 20 PD patients during DBS surgery. Corinna Peden’s role in this project is to perform neuronal action potential (spike train) sorting and analysis on this dataset. Corinna already has preliminary data on 5 subjects which demonstrate the effectiveness of her spike analysis techniques and which have contributed a critical piece to this project. 

Anthony SorrentinoAnthony Sorrentino
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: Dr. Greg Hudalla

Research project description: In recent years, personalized medicine has received a lot of attention for its promise of providing patient specific treatments instead of the one-dose-fits-all approach which predominates today. Clinical translation of this broad research goal will rely on the ability to create drugs with patient specific portions and broadly applicable therapeutics. For example, linking a tumor-specific targeting molecule to a chemotherapy drug can increase the amount of drug that reaches the tumor, therefore, decreasing the necessary dose. Anthony’s graduate student mentor in Dr. Hudalla’s lab has created a novel biomaterial platform that utilizes recombinantly expressed polypeptide “tags” which can bind together three different proteins upon mixing. These heterotrimers, however, are held together by relatively weak, non-covalent interactions. Anthony’s research project hopes to further stabilize these supramolecular structures by covalently crosslinking the three “tags” using cysteine residues. Cysteine, an amino acid found in nature, can be recombinantly expressed and does not requires any harsh organic chemistry to initiate crosslinking giving this biomaterial platform potential for scale-up and widespread clinical use.

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