Page 1

The Pioneer Newsletter is brought to you by the students, faculty, and staff of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. The newsletter staff and its collaborators strive to bring you the latest news from all aspects of the BME community. To submit articles, opinions, ideas, or events for publication and for more information about the newsletter, please visit:

Inside this issue: Pre-Health Students: What is the “Gap Year”?


Exploring Grad Studies: 5 Jason Bach Explains The Ph.D. Proposal The Guild: Opening The Door To Craft


Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars: 2010 Winners


Events & Deadlines February’s Events, Scholarships, and Other Opportunities!


Student Spotlight: An Undergrad’s Experience In Ireland


Faculty Spotlight: Johnna Temenoff, Ph.D.


February 2010

Volume IV, Issue 5

Axion BioSystems: A Pioneer in Neural Interfacing Technologies

By Dhruv Vishwakarma


ocated in the Ford ES&T building with a slew of other biotechnology companies, Axion BioSystems is a pioneer in neural interfacing technologies. The unique fabrication of multi-electrode arrays (MEAs) developed by Axion BioSystems has reduced cost and increased access and availability of neural interfacing technologies multifold. Supported by Georgia Tech’s ATDC (Advanced Technology Development Center) and a team of Georgia Tech’s graduates, the company has developed proprietary systems that allow for simultaneous stimulation and recording of neural tissue – a technique which has …

Continued on Page 4

The Ford ES&T Building. (Photo: GTRC / GIT)

Delivering Stem Cells: Improves Repair of Major Bone Injuries in Rats

And More !

By Abby Vogel


Mechanical engineering professor Robert Guldberg displays a histological image showing cellular bone and cartilage regeneration integrated with a scaffold that was implanted into a large bone defect. (Photo: GTRC / GIT)

recently published study reinforces the potential value of stem cells in repairing major injuries involving the loss of bone structure. The study shows that delivering stem cells on a polymer scaffold to treat large areas of missing bone leads to improved bone formation and better mechanical properties compared to treatment with the scaffold alone. This type of therapeutic treatment could be a potential alternative to bone grafting operations. “Massive bone injuries are among the most challenging problems that orthopedic surgeons face, and they are commonly seen as a result of accidents as well as in soldiers returning …

Continued on Page 10

“That’s So BME!”

By You!

Voices From The Student Body

“I feel like my BMED 3100 professor wishes Klingons were real so we can discover how their powers of regeneration work.” - Bm3d101 “One morning while practicing for a BME 1300 presentation in the PBL room with the sketchy oneway window, we discovered that turning off the lights enabled us to see through the glass. We weren't prepared to discover a janitor on the other side.” - bmedder123 “Friday evening the second week of school and I've been stuck in the Whitaker basement for 5 hours… and counting”


Staff Members Editors in Chief Willa Ni Chun Yong Staff Writers Joseph Abrahamson Jerome Choo Eric Huang Nancy Kim Andrew Lei Stacie Leung Ruobin Ling Graham McAdory Elaina McLean Aswin Natarajan Ayesha Patel Karan Patel Elina Sarmah Rosemary Song Dhruv Vishwakarma Photographers Debika Mitra Kelli Koenig Gopi Patel Kiersten Peterson

Page 2

- 3110 Team FML

Errata: The caption of the picture on page 6 of last issue should read: “Tiffany Chen walking with the unnamed robot from the Healthcare Robotics Laboratory. (Photo: Advait Jain)

Faculty Sponsor Wendy Newstetter

A Couple of Words

Editors Nida Dharani Kanav Jain Nikolaus Shrum

From the Editors in Chief

Layout Editors Kevin Lam Annie Macedo Webmaster Elysia Hwang Collaborators Don Fernandez Paul Fincannon Sally Gerrish Karen Harwell Jennifer Kimble Megan McDevitt Adrianne Proeller Shannon Sullivan David Terraso John Toon Abby Vogel


he Pioneer's recent venture into the cyber world has been met with an overwhelming welcome. Like the physical newsletter, we will continue to gauge your needs and react to your feedback. But this new platform opens new doors. In the future, please look forward to virtual supplements to the original paper or pdf content. Such a vision encompasses biotechnology events that can be updated outside of the monthly timeline and media that can be interactive. Behind our move into the World Wide Web and plans for the future, The Pioneer continues with its original intentions: creating a tighter knit Georgia Tech biotechnology community. As such, we thank the community for their support and suggestions. Happy reading!

Yours sincerely,

Chun Yong and Willa Ni Editors in Chief The Pioneer

Mind the Gap: GT’s Pre-Health Advisor Discusses the “Transition Year”


he Gap Year. Professional schools prefer the more intentional and structured term “transition year” because a student takes time to make a transition from college student to health profession student. The idea of taking a transition year can terrify a student because school has been the one constant throughout life. For some of you, you have been in school since you were six weeks old, but a transition year does not have to be scary.

Why Take A Transition Year(s)? Students have different reasons for taking a transition year. Some students decide to go pre-health late in their college year; they are still taking pre-requisites for the entrance exam their last year at Tech. These students find themselves wondering what to do during the year their applications are being processed. Other students want to apply the classroom knowledge to industry. And for the few burned out students, the thought of another four years of professional school is unnerving. On the other hand, some students do not elect to take a transition year. Instead, the challenge of getting into professional school forces them to spend the transition year working on deficiencies in their applications. If a student finds himself in that situation, the transition year will be spent working on their deficiencies in the application. Does It Look Ok to Admissions Officers? Yes! If you use your time wisely, it can be a wonderful addition to an application. Also, schools do not mind if one transition year turns into two or four or six years. And, as one dean of admissions told me, “Medical schools are not going anywhere. Taking time off before starting can do the mind, body and soul some good!” Admissions officers used to see time off as a lack of commitment, but now they see it as an opportunity to explore another interest that prepares students for work in healthcare. Overall, remember to keep in touch with the Office of Pre-Health Advising, stay on the listserv and take note that MCATs have an expiration date.

What Do You Do In A Transition Year? This depends on the applicant and his/ her interests. Some students elect to work in industry. (A few words of caution on this choice: given the soft job market, a student may spend months trying to find a job.) Opportunities are available in contract employment or temporary agencies. We have a number of students who want to “give back” during their transition time. Options include AmeriCorps, City Year, Teach For America, and Peace Corps. City Year is a perfect option for a one transition year program, Teach For America is a two year commitment, and the Peace Corps usually take three years. Some of our students want to do research. There are a good number of Tech students doing research on campus who are now applying to medical schools. Talk with your faculty about this option. Overall, during your transition time, you need to do some healthcare work just to show schools you are still passionate about healthcare. Can I Do Another Degree? If you want to complete a degree before starting professional school, do it. But, many schools require a letter of evaluation from your graduate program and a date as to when you will graduate. Also, programs will not accept an applicant who quit their graduate degree, just to go into professional school. Defer? I have quite a number of students tell me, “I’m going to go ahead and apply to medical school, and then defer so I can relax next year.” Unfortunately, not every school grants deferments. Check with the schools to which you are applying. Cautions! Make sure you talk to your parents/ guardians about this. Moving home to volunteer at a local hospital, many students forget that their dynamics with their parents may have changes. Also, many of you are covered by your

By Jennifer Kimble parents’ plan, if you are a full time student. During that transition time, you might need to purchase COBRA coverage. For students who wish to go abroad, remember that professional schools require you to come back to the states for the interview day. That could get expensive. Conclusion If the idea of taking a transition year appeals to you, please make an appointment to discuss this in further detail. My office is open to you as a current student and as an alumni.

Upcoming Workshops Mandatory pre-health workshops are now being offered. Please attend at least one of these before scheduling a one-on-one meeting with Jennifer Kimble. General tips and guidelines for your health professional school application will be discussed: Feb 23, 11:00 AM, Clary Theatre Additional workshops will also be held for those applying for Fall 2011 entry. This month, Kimble will be discussing how to obtain effective letters of evaluations for your applications: Feb 16, 11:00 AM, Pres. Suite A Feb 17, 4:00 PM, Pres. Suite D Feb 18, 5:00 PM, Pres. Suite C Feb 22, 6:00 PM, Pres. Suite D All workshops are located in the Student Success Center.

For more information on advice and upcoming workshops, contact GT’s pre-health advisor, Jennifer Kimble at:

Page 3

accelerated pharmaceutical drug screening procedures and will eventually be implemented in medical devices. An MEA is an in-vitro testing ground for neural activity in response to the tissue’s environment. A small compartment containing 64 microelectrodes is used to measure electrical activity in a sample of neural tissue. The specific compound being tested for neurological effects is introduced to the culture of neural tissue in the MEA and the electrodes are used to stimulate and record the neural activity of the culture. Chief Technical Officer James Ross explains, “Each of these electrodes allows you to record up to a dozen individual neurons and then you can extend that recording range across the entire culture and you'll get the full network. This gives you a much richer picture of what a brain slice or neuroculture is doing from a single cell all the way up to the network level.” This technique greatly improves on traditional electrophysiology instrumentation – the patch clamp method – because it can noninvasively provide information about a whole array of cells, as opposed to a single cell, with virtually no operator training. The noninvasiveness of the method lends itself to long-term studies of neural activity and neurological effects of compounds, while the previous patch clamp implementation limits cell viability to a few hours. Three Georgia Tech Ph.D. graduates,

James Ross, Edgar Brown and Swami Rajaraman, started Axion BioSystems partly based on research into a longstanding problem in neuroscience – the generation of a stimulation artifact when neural tissue is stimulated. A stimulation artifact is essentially a buildup of charge of recording equipment, which renders it useless. Ross provides an analogy, “Imagine you're driving a car, and every time you provide an input - accelerate, brake, steer, - your windshield goes black for a couple of seconds. Similarly, every time you provide an input to a neural system, you couldn't see what was going on. The blind spot is called a stimulation artifact.” The Axion BioSystems team developed a charge manipulation strategy and a specialized integrated circuit (IC) that discharges the electrodes immediately after stimulation, freeing the electrode to record neural activity. This simultaneous stimulation and recording method is a first for the MEA industry and one which improves efficiency and reduces experimental constraints and cost of equipment. Using novel implementations of old techniques and a proprietary IC design, Axion BioSystems has achieved inexpensive manufacturing of MEAs in a disposable form factor. The proximity to The Laboratory for Neuroengineering (NeuroLab), the Microelectronics Research Center (MiRC), and the Marcus Nanotechnology building allows Axion BioSystems access to microand nanofabrication equipment, which

Axion BioSystems from Page 1 increases the pace of product development. Collaborations with the Environmental Protection Agency and pharmaceutical companies have allowed Axion BioSystems’ technology to accelerate the rate of research and development for these organizations. On the horizon for this pioneering company lie expanded neural interfacing systems that may, one day, allow for much more integrated engineering applications such as the use of neurons to drive systems or the use of specifically engineered systems to monitor and control nerve function – a technology that, if successful, would greatly benefit medicine - nerve regeneration and rehabilitation - and perhaps even thoughtdriven devices.

The MEA device. (Photo: Axion BioSystems)

For more information, visit: Dhruv Vishwakarma is an undergraduate student in the Coulter Department.

Recent Coulter Department Publications The Pioneer congratulates the following faculty, post-docs, and graduates for this past month’s research publications. American Journal of Physiology – Heart and Circulatory Physiology Dynamic deformation characteristics of porcine aortic valve leaflet under normal and hypertensive conditions. Yap CH, Kim HS, Balachandran K, Weiler M, Haj-Ali R, Yoganathan AP Endothelial cell responses to atheroprone flow are driven by two separate flow components: low time-average shear stress and fluid flow reversal. Conway DE, Williams MR, Eskin SG, McIntire LV Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Comparative characterization of cultures of primary human macrophages or dendritic cells relevant to biomaterial studies. Shankar SP, Babensee JE Journal of Biotechnology Automated piecewise power-law modeling of biological systems. Machina A, Ponosov A, Voit EO

Page 4

Biomaterials Altered adherent leukocyte profile on biomaterials in Toll-like receptor 4 deficient mice. Rogers TH, Babensee JE Polyketal microparticles for therapeutic delivery to the lung. Fiore VF, Lofton MC, Roser-Page S, Yang SC, Roman J, Murthy N, Barker TH Direct and indirect effects of microstructured titanium substrates on the induction of mesenchymal stem cell differentiation towards the osteoblast lineage. Olivares-Navarrete R, Hyzy SL, Hutton DL, Erdman CP, Wieland M, Boyan BD, Schwartz Z Biotechnology and Bioengineering Hydrodynamic modulation of embryonic stem cell differentiation by rotary orbital suspension culture. Sargent CY, Berguig GY, Kinney MA, Hiatt LA, Carpenedo RL, Berson RE, McDevitt TC

Exploring Graduate Studies: Jason Bach Explains The Ph.D. Proposal


or the approximately three thousand graduate students at Georgia Tech, one of the defining points in their journey towards attaining a Ph.D. is the thesis proposal. This presentation outlines a Ph.D. candidate's research proposal, the proposal's importance, the protocols to be used, and the benchmarks to test its efficiency. It also marks the beginning of the long term in-depth research commitment that is the capstone of graduate school. Two years into graduate school, Jason Bach gives The Pioneer a unique opportunity to observe his proposal: Bach, a Bioengineering graduate student from the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, is presenting a proposal to make an effective artificial anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), one of the major ligaments of the knee, from a polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel. “ACL injury is one of the more common injuries that you see in athletes,” explains Bach, “and some papers report that there is a progression of osteoarthritis of the knee even after reconstruction. You could do an allograft [of the ACL], but there’s not really a supply of people who’ve passed away at a young age who had low-risk lifestyles to harvest from. Another way to circumvent this problem is to replace the ACL.” As Bach explains, “Each Ph.D. should provide something novel… You have to

somehow distinguish your advancement.” Bach’s project builds upon his advisor Professor David Ku’s patented polyvinyl alcohol hydrogel. This bio-compatible polymer has “similar properties of elasticity, stiffness, and tensile strength that are found within soft tissues.” Furthermore, Bach’s proposal could change how ACL injuries are treated and may one day prove to be commercially viable. He mentions, “I am interested in the entrepreneurial side,” but quickly clarifies, “I haven’t eliminated academia completely either.” Having done his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, Bach joined Georgia Tech in 2007 after working in industry for four years. After taking responsibilities in quality assurance, regulatory affairs, and business strategy, as well as teaching biology in Beijing for a year, Bach decided to pursue a higher degree. “It really opens doors down the road and… it’s good to keep your options open.” Back in the presentation room, Bach loads his PowerPoint presentation. An email containing the written thesis has been sent to his main audience, a five person advisory team Bach selected to evaluate the strength of his proposal. The advisory team, made up of Professors Mohammed Cherkaoui, Laurent Corte, Rudy Gleason, Robert Guldberg, and David Ku,

By Aswin Natarajan is responsible for evaluating and further refining the proposal. He remarks a few minutes before his presentation. “I feel pretty good. I went over my presentation and came up with answers to some of the questions they may throw at me.” Ku calls Bach over to have a quick word as the advisors and Bach’s friends find seats. The projector is turned on, a Skype connection to Corte, an advisor from Georgia Tech-Lorraine, is made and introductions begin. A few slides in, Guldberg stops Bach to ask a question on the secondary failure rate of torn ACL replacement methods. The question is answered and the presentation continues with inquiries and advice being given intermittently. The questioning is pointed, but Bach remains relaxed – perhaps the short conversation with his advisor prepared him for this. At the end of the presentation, everyone is asked to leave the room. At this point, Bach is questioned by his advisors. “This part was more nerve-racking since you don't know what exactly they will ask and you have to come up with a good answer on the spot,” reflects Bach. After this, the advisors convene in private to decide the fate of Jason’s proposal. Bach is called back in by Ku. The verdict – his proposal is approved for admission to Ph.D. candidacy. In the coming months, Bach plans to go to Georgia Tech-Lorraine to continue his research. “The next major presentation will be the Ph.D. thesis defense which is at least a year away. It's too far away to look forward to it yet. At this point I want to focus on making a good device so once we have that it can hopefully defend itself,” he says, chuckling. This graduate student gets to breathe for another day. Aswin Natarajan is an undergraduate student in the Coulter Department.

Curious about graduate studies or graduate life? Do you have an “obvious question” that has not been answered? Send questions to: Jason Bach holding up his developing prosthetic anterior cruciate ligament. (Photo: Jason Bach)

Page 5

The Guild:

Shop Equipment List

Opening The Door To Craft


choes of a drill, shifting planks of wood, and craft drift from the cement floored room just to the left of the Whitaker basement level stairwell. Welcome to The Guild. Mark McJunkin, Door Keeper and BMED 2300: Problems in Biomedical Engineering II lecturer, explains that The Guild creates a unique environment in which “students interested in building… can be around craftspeople” and learn to use the equipment in the Whitaker workshop. Loosely based on guilds of old, beginners can apprentice under mentors. Such an atmosphere hails to a philosophy of “learning outside the confines of a book.” The last meeting of the fall 2009 semester, new and old Guild members crafted an assembly table. Designed to create zero waste, the table also allows new apprentices to practice basic skills. Ramya Parthasarathy and Srinija Konduru of a senior design team learn to place screws in wood for the first time. Though their project, a rat defibrillator, will not include woodwork, one student explains that they are working towards skills that will create better prototypes.

By Willa Ni McJunkin also theorizes that a “need really drives learning.” This is exemplified in the work of the Guild members. Graduate student Melissa Li displays a four channel flow chamber for her project on a high throughput method of observing the formation of blood clots. Though the aluminum parts are not flawless, they are a testament to the alacrity in which she learned to machine a complex part from a skilled mentor. The Guild has transformed the underutilized workshop McJunkin discovered one and a half years ago into a bustling buzz of creation. In the future, McJunkin envisions shop hours held by trained TAs as more mentors mean more trained apprentices. This combined with scheduled demonstrations will fill in the currently unmolded abilities to craft and create in biomedical engineering students. If you are interested in joining The Guild, please contact Mark McJunkin at

• •

• • • • • • • • • •

2 Manual Milling machines (Full Size with Digital Read out and Lower Mid size) Manual Engine Lathe Prototyping CNC open Milling Machine (Max spindle speed 4,000 RPM) Enclosed CNC Milling machine with flood coolant and 20 tool changer (Max Spindle Speed 30,000 RPM) CNC lathe Manual Drill Press Two ton Arbor Press Manual tapping machine Vinyl Cutter FDM rapid prototyping machine 3D Printer Prototype Vacuum Form Machine Horizontal and Vertical Band saw General hand tools and Gauging equipment. Most important tools in shop: One broom and one mop with bucket!

Willa Ni is an undergraduate student in the Coulter Department.

Students of the Coulter Department, both undergraduate and graduate, work on individual projects in the BME Workshop located in the basement of Whitaker. On the left is an example of Melissa Li’s device, a four channel flow chamber for her project on blood clots. (Photos: Mark McJunkin)

Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars Winners of the 2010 Research Fellowship

By Ayesha Patel


ooking for a way to become involved in research? The Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars program is a competitive scholarship program that allows undergraduates to conduct independent research. The program allows students to gain a comprehensive research experience for one year. Scholars are mentored by Georgia Tech graduates who help them in their research projects throughout the year. The Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars Program began as a dual program with Emory University. The program was awarded a ten-year grant for research at both Emory and Georgia Tech. Since last year was the final year of the award, the program now belongs to the independent research laboratories in Parker H. Petit for Bioengineering and Bioscience. The Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars Program runs from January to December of a year and is funded by the Atlanta area community members. In the program, students spend over 12 hours a week in the laboratories during the spring and fall semesters, along with their regular semester coursework. During the summer, they are expected to spend a minimum of 40 hours a week in the laboratories. This year, the program holds the largest class of scholars, 18, from Tech, Emory, and Morehouse College. Third year undergraduate student, Samiya Hussain says that she expects “greater experience, skills and knowledge about cardiovascular

Eighteen scholars were picked to participate in the year-long research fellowship in the Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience. Above is a picture of student scholars, graduate mentors, and the faculty mentor of the program, Todd McDevitt, Ph.D. (Photo: GTRC / GIT)

heart valves” after completing the program. Hussain has been researching in the same Cardiovascular Fluid Mechanics research lab for three semesters and will continue in the same lab throughout the course of the program. The Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars Program serves as a great experience for young researchers to develop their new innovations and carry them into the real world. Ayesha Patel is an undergraduate student in the Coulter Department.

Learn more about the Petit Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Visit the IBB Website at:







Bilal Bari

Doug Ollerenshaw


Thejas Hiremath

Jacob Lucrezi


Nathaniel Bloodworth

Taymour Hammoudi Temenoff

Samiya Hussain

Choon Hwai Yap


Olivia Burnsed

Chris Lee


Byung Kyu Kim

Wenwei Xu


Soohee Cho

Russell Vegh


Arina Korneva

Jeff Kornuta


Andre Forbes

Chang Quo


Jason Murray

Chiaolong Hsiao


Venkat Goli

Kipp Schoenwald


Willa Ni

Don-Ricardo Miller


Derwin Gray

Alex Peister


Lauren Troxley

Erin Spinner


Shawna Hagen

Marilyn Markowski


Glenn “Travis” Wagner Roman Mezencev


Katy Hammersmith

Andres Bratt-Leal


Chun Yong


Alison Lawson

Page 7

February Events & Deadlines February 1 - 5th Annual GT UG Research Symposium Deadline Share your research work with other students and faculty from all over campus! Apply to present your work in either poster or oral presentation at the 5th Annual Undergraduate Research Spring Symposium and Awards to be held Tuesday, March 16, 2010, at the GT Student Center. For more info, visit: February 3 - 2010 IBB Vendor Showcase IBB will host its annual Vendor Showcase at Georgia Tech beginning at 10:00 AM in the IBB atrium. More than 50 vendors will be on hand to display and demonstrate their equipment and research techniques; thereby offering a great opportunity for faculty and staff to learn about new products as well. Donated items by vendors will be raffled for attendees throughout the showcase.

NeuroTalks The director of the Laboratory for Neuroengineering, Steve Potter, Ph.D., invites you to join in biweekly seminars. Two Neurolab researchers, undergraduate and graduate, will present a 20-minute informal talk followed by a 10minute discussion. Lunch will be provided. Upcoming sessions in February are as follows: February 12, 1:00-2:00 PM, IBB Room 1128 February 26, 1:00-2:00 PM, IBB Room 1128

February 3 - Georgia Bio Conference The Atlanta Clinical & Translational Science Institute and Georgia Bio will host a half-day conference entitled, “Academic & Industry Intersection: Accessing Partners,” beginning at 11:30 AM in the Emory Conference Center, Atlanta. Networking reception will follow the program. For more information on registration and fees visit:

Volunteers interested in presenting should contact Dr. Potter at:

February 4 - Bioengineering Seminar Series Join Jean Schwarzbauer, Ph.D., Princeton University, in her seminar “Deciphering Mechanical and Chemical Signals in a Fibronectin Matrix.” 11:00-12:00 PM, IBB 1128.

2010 Suddath Student Award Call for Proposals

February 4 - Ph.D. Proposal Join Jessica O’Neal from the Guldberg group for her proposal “The Effects of Aging and Remodeling on Bone Quality and Microdamage.” 10 AM, MRDC 4211. February 8 - GT Research and Innovation Conference (gtRIC) Interested in what graduate students are researching at Georgia Tech? Want to find out more about research in general? Then, drop by the Georgia Tech Research and Innovation Conference (gtRIC), the premier graduate event showcasing original posters and innovations at Georgia Tech. Poster session: 5:00-7:00 PM, Georgia Tech Hotel Reception: 7:00-8:00 PM, Global Learning Center Atrium

Fulbright Programs & Opportunities

For more info visit: February 11 - Chemistry Colloquium Join John Shelnutt, Ph.D., University of Basel, in his seminar “Self-assembled Porphyrin Nanostructures and Cooperative Binary Ionic Biomorphs”. 3:00-4.00 PM, MS&E G011. February 16 - IBB Breakfast Club Join Kirill Lobachev, Ph.D., in his seminar “Human Repetitive DNA Sequences as a Source of Chromosomal Fragility and Genome Rearrangements in Yeast: Implications for Human Polymorphisms and Diseases”. 8:30 AM, IBB 1128. Continental breakfast will be provided. February 26 - Research Collaboration Round Table The offices of the Georgia Research Alliance, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the CDC Foundation will host a research collaboration roundtable on Friday, February 26, 2010, beginning at 9 AM. Registration information will be distributed via email in January 2010 and will also be online at:

Page 8

The F. L. “Bud” Suddath Memorial Award is given annually to Graduate Students in Bioscience, Biochemistry and Bioengineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology who have demonstrated significant achievement in research. Nomination packages for this year’s award must be submitted electronically to James Godard, IBB Assistant Director, no later than 3:00 PM on Thursday, February 18, 2010. For more information please visit: event.php?id=2588

The Fulbright Programs offer fellowships to U.S. and Foreign students for study, research, and/or teaching assistantships abroad. All undergraduate and graduate students interested in Fulbright applications are invited to meet with the Fulbright Campus Representative, Dr. Karen Adams. Seniors who will graduate by August 2011 and graduate students who will not have defended the dissertation by the end of October 2010 are eligible to apply this coming fall. Applicants must be US citizens. An information session will be held February 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM in the Crescent Room, Student Center. More information may be found at: Submit events and other important dates to:!

*Events subject to change. For more information, please check,, and

Join the Georgia Tech Biomedical Engineering Society today! Meet new people in your department, learn about the biomedical engineering industry, and attend numerous seminars hosting BME alumni and company representatives from around the country! Fill out an application now! More info can be found at:

The Innovative STEM Foundation is proud to bring you the 3rd Annual Innovative STEM Conference. The three day conference will be held in Morgan State University March 11-13, 2010. STEM is calling for student abstracts (due Feb 1) and full research papers (due Feb 15). For more information, visit:

The Summer Cancer Research Fellowship program provides a unique opportunity for eligible current sophomore or junior undergraduate students to engage in innovative integrative biology approaches to cancer research through the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Integrative Cancer Biology Program (ICBP). Selected student participants are paired with a faculty-mentor from a participating ICBP Center based on the student’s indicated research interests. For more information, visit:

Research Experience for Undergraduates! The Institute for Cellular Engineering (ICE) at UMass Amherst is hosting a Research Experience for Undergraduates. Deadline for applications is February 14. Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in bioengineering or biological sciences should visit:


re you interested in a rewarding health-related career that services the community? Well then, the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) is the club for you! The GT AMSA chapter is a student-run organization that caters to the needs of pre-health students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare. With over 200 members this year, AMSA serves as one of the largest pre-professional organizations at Georgia Tech. AMSA provides a supportive network for pre-health students by building connections in the healthcare field through personal guidance, volunteer opportunities at hospitals and other social gatherings. These events include: volunteering at Medshare, visits to medical schools, banquets, pre-health conferences, and seminars hosted by admission directors from the University of Chicago, Duke, Emory, and more! GT AMSA is dedicated to not only meeting the needs of pre-medical students at Tech but also providing information about alternative healthcare careers. Last year, AMSA hosted admission directors from osteopathic medical schools, optometry schools, pharmacy schools, and podiatry schools. So, whether you want to become a doctor, a dentist, a pharmacist, or a vet, AMSA will be extremely beneficial to your pre-health career! To find out more information about joining AMSA, please visit:

2010 MIT Clean Energy Prize Business Plan Competition Open to both undergraduates and graduates of all US universities, this business plan competition offers a platform to make a difference, generate exposure to industry leaders, and launch a business by turning ideas into realities. Awards include a $200,000 grand prize and $300,000 in other prizes. Applications are due February 25, 2010. More information may be found at:

For a complete listing of undergraduate and graduate opportunities, visit: career

Page 9

Delivering Stem Cells from Page 1 from war,” said the study's lead author Robert Guldberg, a professor in Georgia Tech's Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. “This study shows that there is promise in treating these injuries by delivering stem cells to the injury site. These are injuries that would not heal without significant medical intervention.” Details of the research were published in the early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on January 11, 2010. This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. The study was conducted in rats in which two bone gaps eight millimeters in length were created to simulate massive injuries. One gap was treated with a polymer scaffold seeded with stem cells and the other with scaffold only. The results showed that injuries treated with the stem cell scaffolds showed significantly more bone growth than injuries treated with scaffolds only. Guldberg and mechanical engineering graduate student Kenneth Dupont experimented with scaffolds containing two different types of human stem cells -bone marrow-derived mesenchymal adult stem cells and amniotic fluid fetal stem cells.

A study led by Robert Guldberg, Ph.D., shows that delivering stem cells on a scaffold to treat large areas of missing bone leads to improved bone formation and better mechanical properties compared to treatment with scaffold alone. (Photo: Robert Guldberg)

Page 10

Micro-CT (top) and X-ray (bottom) images of bone formation in massive defects treated with a scaffold alone (left), a scaffold seeded with adult stem cells (middle), and a scaffold seeded with fetal stem cells (right). (Photo: Robert Guldberg)

“We were able to directly evaluate the therapeutic potential of human stem cells to repair large bone defects by implanting them into rats with a reduced immune system,” explained Guldberg, who is also the director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience at Georgia Tech. Micro-CT measurements showed no significant differences in bone regeneration between the two stem cell groups. However, combining the two types of stem cells produced significantly higher bone volume and strength compared to scaffolds without cellular augmentation. Although stem cell delivery significantly enhanced bone growth and biomechanical properties, it was not able to consistently repair the injury. Eight weeks after the treatment, new bone bridged the gaps in four of nine defects treated with scaffolds seeded with adult stem cells, one of nine defects treated with scaffolds seeded with fetal stem cells, and none of the defects treated with the scaffold alone. “We thought that the functional regeneration of the bone defects may have been limited by stem cells migrating away from the injury site, so we decided to investigate the fate and distribution of the delivered cells,” said Guldberg. To do this, Guldberg labeled stem cells with fluorescent quantum dots -nanometer-scale particles that emit light when excited by near-infrared radiation -to track the distribution of stem cells after delivery on the scaffolds and completed

the same experiments as previously described. Throughout the entire study, the researchers observed significant fluorescence at the stem cell scaffold sites. However, beginning seven to 10 days after treatment, signals appeared at the scaffoldonly sites. Additional analysis with immunostaining revealed that the quantum dots present at the scaffold-only sites were contained in inflammatory cells called macrophages that had taken up quantum dots released from dead stem cells. “While our overall study shows that stem cell therapy has a lot of promise for treating massive bone defects, this experiment shows that we still need to develop an improved way of delivering the stem cells so that they stay alive longer and thus remain at the injury site longer,” explained Guldberg. The researchers also found that the quantum dots diminished the function of the transplanted stem cells and thus their therapeutic effect. When the stem cells were labeled with quantum dots, the results showed a failure to enhance bone formation or bridge defects. However, the same low concentration of quantum dots did not affect cell viability or the ability of the stem cells to become bone cells in laboratory studies. “Although in vitro laboratory studies remain important, this work provides further evidence that well-characterized in vivo models are necessary to test the

ability of regenerative tissue strategies to effectively integrate and restore function in complex living organisms,” added Guldberg. “Improved methods of noninvasive cell tracking that do not alter cell function in vivo are needed to optimize stem cell delivery strategies and compare the effectiveness of different stem cell sources for tissue regeneration.” Guldberg is currently exploring alternative cell tracking methods, such as genetically modifying the stem cells to express green fluorescent protein and/or other luminescent enzymes such as luciferase. He is also investigating the addition of programming cues to the

scaffold that will direct the stem cells to differentiate into bone cells. These signals may be particularly effective for fetal stem cells, which are believed to be more primitive than adult stem cells, according to Guldberg. Lessons learned from the current work are also being applied to develop effective stem cell therapies for severe composite injuries to multiple tissues including bone, nerve, vasculature and muscle. This followon work is being conducted in the Georgia Tech Center for Advanced Bioengineering for Soldier Survivability in collaboration with Ravi Bellamkonda and Barbara Boyan, professors in the Wallace H. Coulter

Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. Other authors on the paper include Andrés García, professor and Woodruff Faculty Fellow in Georgia Tech's Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience; Georgia Tech research scientist Hazel Stevens, Georgia Tech graduate student Joel Boerckel; and National University of Ireland medical student Kapil Sharma. Abby Vogel is a communications officer in the GT Research News & Publications Office and a collaborator of The Pioneer.

Student Spotlight: Megan Springman A BME Undergraduate Describes Her Internship in Ireland


hile developing many technical skills, senior BME undergraduate Megan Springman has also enjoyed many of Europe's finest sights during her internship in Ireland. Arranged through the Biomedical Engineering in a Global Economy program, founded by Coulter Department assistant professor Thomas Barker, Ph.D., Springman has been working for a company called Teleflex Medical, a worldwide medical device company. Springman worked in quality assurance and regulatory affairs for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This internship began in June of 2009 and extended to December of 2009. During her first week, Springman worked on getting technical files together. She also mastered a new system, MedDev, which is standard for European medical devices. More recently, she helped prepare an audit, which gave her insight into post device design process. Springman has also drafted operating procedures and become familiar with European medical device directives. She added, “My favorite projects, however, have been in assisting in the

Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, Ireland. (Photo: Megan Springman)

compilation of literature route clinical evaluations. It is much like being back in problem based learning (PBL), scouring journal articles for what I need and gaining insight to determine what actions should be taken next.” Springman affirms that the PBL course at Georgia Tech trained her to find information from internet sources and journals and became an expert on a field in a relatively short period of time. Aside from the technical skills, Springman has also learned a lot from Teleflex's global reach. Working with the Teleflex Malaysian team and other manufacturing and design groups throughout Europe, Springman discovered the interesting cultural variations in work ethic and attitudes. And not only did she have the chance to observe cultural differences, but also experience them. Springman noted a difference between her internship in Ireland and an internship in the U.S.: the people in Ireland were much more laid back. This, she found, led to a certain sense of comradery and not too much competition. While she was not on the job, Springman also had the opportunity to absorb and experience the culture in Ireland. She and her co-workers participated in an activity called the “Twelve Pubs of Christmas” in which they go to twelve different pubs in the city in one night of fun. Springman also enjoyed seeing Ireland’s most beautiful sites, such as the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare and the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Ironically, Springman came to Georgia Tech as an Aerospace Engineering major but switched to BME upon discovering that

By Elina Sarmah

BME undergraduate Megan Springman interned with Teleflex Medical in Europe. (Photo: Megan Springman)

she was not overly fond of physics. BME was particularly attractive since Springman wanted to “engineer new and fantastic ways to help people with their illnesses.” Now a “wizened BMEer,” Springman has a few words of advice. For the typical BME student, busy with deadlines and constantly working, Springman suggests finding a hobby and taking time to see the world. Upon graduation, students will realize that their dream job or the loans accumulated on the way to that dream job may impede travel. “Stop making excuses,” Springman asserts, “You won't regret it.” Elina Sarmah is an undergraduate student in the Coulter Department.

Page 11

Faculty Spotlight: Johnna Temenoff, Ph.D. From a Graduate to a Professor Temenoff, Ph.D., an assistant J ohnna professor of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory, is a member of one of the first generations of biomedical engineering graduates now turning around to teach and conduct research in the field. As an undergraduate at Case Western Reserve University, she decided to take on French as a second major and studied abroad in Nancy, France for a semester, an experience she definitely recommends. She says she found a lot more confidence to face graduate school after her studies abroad, telling herself, “I can do this in French, why can’t I do this in English!” She also highly recommends undergraduate research. Her work on quantifying bacterial adhesion on materials in contact with blood helped her ascertain that graduate school was in her future. Pursuing a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at Rice University, she realized the breadth of the field. Case Western taught the major from an electrical engineering and mechanical engineering background, while Rice focused more on the chemical engineering aspects. As such, her graduate research looked at developing a new polymer for bone and tissue cartilage engineering. A mandatory industrial

The Temenoff group. (Photo: Johnna Temenoff)

By Rosemary Song internship in Holland confirmed her desire to pursue academia and teaching. Temenoff states that she had a good time, but did not enjoy the “push to get a product to market” as much as “the intellectual freedom of academia and running a lab.” With such feelings established, when her Ph.D. advisor asked her to co-write a textbook, Temenoff readily agreed. Biomaterials: The Intersection of Biology and Materials Science, published in 2008, is one of the first biomaterials textbooks written specifically for biomedical engineering undergraduates. Knowing what it was like not to have a textbook, Temenoff wanted to give back to future BME undergraduates. As a professor, Temenoff stresses the importance of integrating ethics and public policy into biomedical engineerJohnna Temenoff, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of the Coulter Departing. She started focusing on these topics when she noticed ment. (Photo: GTRC / GIT) some of the seniors in BMED 4751: injury. For overuse injuries, like tennis Introduction to Biomaterials were unaware elbow, where tissue is often “shredded,” of the potentially lifeinjectable materials that release drugs or threatening implications of growth factors to the site may be a better small design errors in option. In the long term, Temenoff’s biomedical devices. In research has high clinical translation and Temenoff’s class, students the overuse injury treatments may be used learn from case studies of clinically in the nearer term. pa st de vice fa ilu re s. Honored with the 2008 NSF CAREER Temenoff hopes that this Award for her excellent work in both teaching style will let research and education, Temenoff students learn from others’ attributes many of her accomplishments to mistakes. her experiences as an undergraduate When not teaching, student. Temenoff explains that if one is Temenoff can be found prepared to meet the challenges of the researching new polymers “real world” by facing new challenges as an for tendon and ligament undergraduate, then the future is not that regeneration in tissue much different. Defining biomedical engineering. Depending on engineering as “the application of the type of ligament or quantitative skills and design principles to tendon injury, she has further understanding and improve human different projects looking at health,” Dr. Temenoff looks back fondly, ways to decrease healing saying how she “can’t imagine being any time while increasing the other kind of engineer.” quality of the healed tissue. For ruptures or tears, new Rosemary Song is an undergraduate student in the tissue grown on scaffolds in Coulter Department. a bioreactor can bridge the

Page 12

February 2010  
February 2010  

By Abby Vogel Continued on Page 4 A Pioneer in Neural Interfacing Technologies Improves Repair of Major Bone Injuries in Rats And More ! Exp...