Tran Ngo, Schmidt Lab UG, Receives McNair Scholarship

March 27, 2019

Congratulations to Tran Ngo, Schmidt Lab undergraduate student, who was selected as a University of Florida’s McNair Scholar for 2019-2020. Lucy works with Ben Spearman.

The McNair Program prepares undergraduate students for pursuit of a doctoral degree by providing financial support, research mentoring opportunities, academic skills and strategies, and develop crucial student/faculty mentor relationships for success in higher education. During the summer, McNair Scholars participate in an intensive research internship and attend GRE test preparation workshops. Throughout the academic year, Scholars continue their research and utilize resources tailored towards the graduate school application process and other topics related to graduate study at the doctoral level. All of these activities are designed to equip McNair Scholars with the information and experience required to successfully enter and complete a graduate program.

Research description:
Tran’s research has been focused on fabrication and characterization of hyaluronic acid (HA) based hydrogel scaffolds for peripheral nerve regeneration caused by injuries, which often result in a loss of motor and/or sensory function. 3D bioprinting of natural ECM-based bioinks such as HA and collagen can be used to provide custom scaffolds with microarchitecture and regeneration-promoting cells. In this project, Tran examined the rheological properties of the different crosslinked hydrogels for optimization as a 3D bio-printable bioink and as a match to the mechanical properties of native peripheral nerve tissue. She has also worked on quantifying the printability of these HA-based bioinks. To continue, Tran is looking into embedding microarchitecture into the scaffolds to provide support for better axonal elongation and nerve regeneration. Furthermore, Tran will 3D bio-print Schwann cells with the optimized HA-collagen hydrogel and assess cell viability post-printing. This project aims to utilize additive manufacturing approaches such as 3D bioprinting to build application- and patient-specific designs with high resolution and structural complexity for peripheral nerve regeneration.

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