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Bioengineering News

A Tale of Pandas, Stem Cells, Problem-Solving and Medicine: Irene Cheng’s Boren Fellowship

I chose to study bioengineering because I really appreciated the hands-on aspect of this field. From conducting lab work, tinkering with electrical components, and working on my problem-solving capabilities, bioengineering challenges me everyday, which I love! I worked under Dr. Nagatomi and as an undergrad, I studied the effect of a 3D environment and ECM protein coating on urothelial tissue stratification in vitro. I chose to work with Dr. Nagatomi because of the wide range of projects we have in his lab, and through the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to learn so much! I believe Clemson and specifically the close-knit bioengineering department have given me many opportunities for personal, professional, and intellectual growth. I’ve definitely taken advantage of the encouragement of many professors to expand our horizons and study outside the classroom as well—I studied cancer stem cells at the University of Tokyo thanks to Dr. Nagatomi and traveled to Tanzania to learn about medical equipment in developing countries with Dr. Dean and Dr. Desjardins! I’ve learned that my Clemson family is found all over the world! Upon my return I plan on pursuing higher education and a career in translational research.

All of this led to my year in Chengdu, China, as a United States David L. Boren Fellow. Boren Awards are sponsored by the National Security Education Program (NSEP), a major federal initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills. My daily life usually consists of attending Advanced Mandarin class in the mornings and either a history/political science class in the afternoon, my internship, or meeting with language partners. I intern at a traditional Chinese medical clinic, learning about transcultural health practices and the mix of Eastern and Western Medicine. Chengdu is an amazing and growing city—some highlights have been visiting the Panda Research Institute and seeing this year’s group of baby pandas, trying authentic Sichuan hotpot (very spicy but delicious!), and learning to make many famous Sichuan dishes. Although I’ve been here for only two months (of an 11 month program), I’ve already noticed that many of the skills I acquired through Clemson have come in handy in China: problem-solving in day-to-day life, communication (especially due to the language barrier), and teaching locals a little bit about our healthcare system in the US and technological advances.


Southeast Regional Biomaterials Day

The 4th annual Southeast Regional Biomaterials Day, hosted by Clemson University, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Vanderbilt University, will take place November 8-9, 2018, in Clemson, SC. According to Meredith Owen, PhD student and president of Clemson Bioengineering Society (CBS), “The mission of Biomaterials Day is to foster and promote the development of biomaterials research and innovation and to advocate for increased entrepreneurial ventures and collaborations between universities and industries across the southeastern US.” The two-day event, to be held at Clemson’s Madren Center, will provide a forum for students, leading researchers, and industry representatives to meet and exchange ideas that promote innovation in biomaterials synthesis, application, and evaluation.

The event’s Friday morning session will feature student and faculty talks focused on cutting edge research in the field of biomaterials. The afternoon session will focus on presentations about translational research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A keynote address will be given to start the afternoon session, and a poster session and reception will close the conference. Session topics will include mechanics in biomaterials, regenerative tissue engineering, entrepreneurship, and industry collaborations. Students from colleges and universities in the southeast are invited to submit abstracts for consideration for either a podium talk or poster presentation.

Owen said, “This year we are honored and excited to have Dr. Karen Burg and Dr. Alan Alfano as keynote speakers. Dr. Burg is the Harbor Lights Endowed Chair in the Department of Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at the University of Georgia and Professor Emerita of Clemson University. Her keynote will be focused on the establishment and development of research and innovation in the southeastern US.” While at Clemson, Dr. Burg established the SC Institute for Biological Interfaces for Engineering and served as the university’s interim vice provost for research and innovation. Her current research interests include absorbable polymers, biofabrication, regenerative engineering, science and engineering education, and 3D tissue structures. Cody Dunton, chair of the Biomaterials Day Planning Committee, added, “We are thrilled to have Dr. Burg deliver the keynote address. Her experience in the field of biomaterials and research innovation is a wonderful resource that I hope students in attendance can learn from and take back to their respective universities.”

Dr. Alfano, who will deliver a keynote on entrepreneurship and the process of translating academic research to market, is a Technology Commercialization Officer (TCO) at the Clemson University Research Foundation (CURF), where he aids in the process of moving innovative biotechnologies from the laboratory to commercial markets. His background in benchtop research and his biotech business experience afford him unique insight into the southeast’s entrepreneurial climate.

continued, “We are looking forward to hosting Southeast Regional’s Biomaterials Day this year in Clemson, SC. I am excited to see the biomaterials research being conducted by our peers! This conference has a reputation for providing a unique forum for trainees from various southeastern universities to cultivate relationships that last into their professional lives.”

Wrapping up their comments, Owen said, “ sponsors of the 2018 Southeast Regional Biomaterials Day, including the Society for Biomaterials and the Clemson University Bioengineering Department, have generously provided funding and other support for this year’s event. We look forward to the Day’s continued success. For more information regarding the event and to register or submit an abstract, please visit clemsonbiomaterialsday.com.”


National Scholar Casey Young honors Dr. Delphine Dean as mentor

Dean and YoungWhen National Scholars graduate, they choose one mentor to honor. Casey Young chose Dr. Delphine Dean, who was recognized at the National Scholars Program Awards of Distinction event. Dr. Dean was honored for all the contributions she has made to the National Scholars Program and particularly for the enthusiastic support and expert guidance she has provided Casey. According to Dr. Dean, "Casey worked on projects in Tanzania, helping to design a low-cost patient monitor. She now has a B.S. in bioelectrical engineering, and she is staying to do her M.S."


Research by Drs. Ye and Mercuri supported by Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute

Sports science logoDr. Jeremy Mercuri and Dr. Tong Ye, assistant professors in the bioengineering department, were awarded $43,592 by Clemson’s Robert H. Brooks Sports Science Institute to determine the effectiveness of mesenchymal stem cells to promote knee cartilage health in patients undergoing surgical repair after injury. The investigators will also determine the effectiveness of nonlinear optical microscopy to identify degenerative knee cartilage damage.

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Clemson University wins award from Edmund Optics

Edmund logoClemson University has been awarded a 2017 Educational Award by Edmund Optics, a provider of optical components to both industry and academia. The award is given in recognition of outstanding undergraduate and graduate optics programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at nonprofit colleges and universities worldwide. Clemson was nominated by Claire Ma, a graduate student in Dr. Bruce Gao’s lab.

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DesJardins Drives Industry and University Collaboration

Desjardin en route to conference Dr. John DesJardins en route to the site of Clemson’s Developing World Biomedical Device Innovation Co-Op program.

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BEST Design Workshop

Design workshop group Clemson Bioengineering annually sponsors the Biomedical Engineering and Surgical Technology (BEST) Design Workshop, where stakeholders evaluate how the design of medical-device prototypes may affect patient safety.

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Dr. John DesJardins awarded CECAS 2017 Mentoring Award

Desjardins wins awardDr. John DesJardins, Hambright Distinguished Professor in Engineering Leadership, was awarded the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science’s 2017 Mentoring Award. According to Dr. DesJardins, this recognition affirms his belief that mentoring is a slow and consistent process of gaining and maintaining the trust of another person, placing their interests, aspirations, and successes above your own, for the common good of everyone.

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2017 Bioengineering Senior Design EXPO

Senior Design workshop group On May 5, 2017, more than 50 student teams and research groups showcased their novel biomedical technologies and competed for design awards at TD Convention Center in Greenville, South Carolina. This year’s exposition featured Masters of Engineering design teams, Clemson Creative Inquiry groups, Project Lead The Way high school teams, and faculty innovators. The designers presented their technologies alongside the department of bioengineering’s 22 senior design teams and their clinical collaborators. According to Dr. John DesJardins, founder of the annual exposition, the day is a celebration of design and technology achievements that have been supported by laboratory research, clinical collaborations and industry partnerships.


Rugby Explores Prostheses, Bioengineering with “The Running Dream”

Rugby group Dr. John DesJardins and Ph.D. student Meredith Owen contributed their expertise and themselves to explicating prostheses for students at Rugby Middle School in Henderson County, North Carolina.

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Melissa McCullough awarded Frank A. Burtner Award for Excellence in Advising


Melissa McCullough, front row, far right

At the 2017 University-wide faculty meeting, Melissa McCullough, the department’s electrical and communication services coordinator, was awarded the Frank A. Burtner Award for Excellence in Advising. Presented by President James Clements, the annual award includes a cash prize. The Burtner Award recognizes an advisor of students (academic or non-academic) or student organizations who excel in developing students in the area of leadership, devotion to duty and service.

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Dr. Vladimir Reukov Wins Creative Inquiry Mentoring Award

Dr. Vladimir Reukov was selected by Clemson Creative Inquiry to receive the 2017 Phil and Mary Bradley Award for Mentoring in Creative Inquiry. The award is given to a faculty member in recognition of outstanding work with undergraduate students, who are the nominators for this award. In addition to receiving a monetary award, Dr. Reukov will act as an ambassador for the program and will be a plenary speaker at next year’s Focus on Creative Inquiry.


2017 Awards Banquet and Senior Celebration

The department held its annual Awards Banquet and Senior Celebration on April 13, 2017. The following students were recognized:

2017 College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Science Award Winners
  • J. Wesley Davis Leadership Award—Joey Wilson
  • Hambright Scholarship Fellow—Natalie Ivey
2017 Undergraduate Award Winners
  • S. W. Shalaby Outstanding Bioengineering Sophomore Award—Cassidy Barringer
  • Larry S. Bowman Outstanding Bioengineering Junior Award—Natalie Ivey
  • Poly-Med Outstanding Bioengineering Senior Award—Katelyn Ragland
  • Barry W. Sauer Outstanding Bioengineering Undergraduate Researcher Award—Taylor Rothermel
  • Jonathan Black Undergraduate Leadership in Bioengineering Award—Anna Lu Carter
  • C. William Hall Undergraduate Departmental Honors Award—Lauren Pruett
  • R. Larry Dooley Entrepreneurship Award—Carlie Van
2017 Graduate Award Winners
  • Austin T. Moore Leadership Award—Alan Marionneaux
  • Outstanding Graduate Bioengineering Teaching Assistant Award—Dmitry Gil
  • Page Morton Hunter Bioengineering Graduate Researcher Award—Dylan Richards
  • R. Larry Dooley Entrepreneurship Award—Bre Przestrzelski

International Biomaterials Symposium 2017 - China

Madren Center, Clemson, SC
April 10th, 2017
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. Frank Alexis recognized by Clemson PEER & WISE

Clemson’s PEER & WISE have recognized Dr. Frank Alexis for his exceptional service and support of the programs. PEER & WISE are designed to increase and retain women and underrepresented minorities in engineering and science majors.


Drs. Dan and Agneta Simionescu have edited a second book on angiogenesis

Physiologic and Pathologic Angiogenesis - Signaling Mechanisms and Targeted Therapy, edited by Drs. Dan and Agneta Simionescu is an updated second edition of a previous publication that has accumulated 23,743 chapter downloads since 2011. Physiologic and Pathologic Angiogenesis - Signaling Mechanisms and Targeted Therapy ISBN 978-953-51-3024-6 is published online by INTECH as an Open Access resource.


Joey Wilson Receives Cambridge Trust Scholarship

After a year of study as a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in Beijing, Joey will take up studies and research toward a Ph.D. in Oncology at Cambridge University.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to earn a Ph. D. in Oncology at Cambridge University, where I will conduct research on how nanotechnology can be developed to better prevent and treat cancer under Dr. Daniel Munoz-Espin! I believe that Cambridge is like Clemson—with an amazing "family" environment and beautiful community that will provide opportunities for immense intellectual, professional, and personal growth inside and outside of the lab and classroom. I hope to take full advantage of my time there by joining a great college, meeting new people, and staying involved on campus—my ultimate dream would be to join the rowing team and compete against Oxford on the River Thames. I'm so thankful for all of the constant support given by Clemson's Bioengineering Department and the Honors College in my quest to attend Cambridge—I wouldn't be the person I am or have the opportunities I do without them."

Lowcountry Science Fair

In Summer 2016, the Clemson-MUSC Program hosted three Academic Magnet High School Summer students. They were Kerri Wong and Jenny Yao, who were mentored by Dr. Ying Mei, and Hannah Frankel, who was mentored by Dr. Renee Cottle. During the first week in April, the students participated in the Lowcountry Regional Science and Engineering Fair, where Ms. Frankel won 3rd Place in Biological Science. Ms. Yao, the overall winner, was selected as a finalist to compete at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles, May 14-19 2017.


VRM Labs: A Startup to Watch

Alexey Vertegel and Vladimir Reukov’s company, VRM Labs, is one of Upstate Business Journal’s “10 Startups to Watch in 2017."

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Dr. Perry Sprawls presented Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award

The Clemson University Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award honors individuals dedicated to enhancing the quality and value of the university. On March 31, Dr. Perry Sprawls was awarded the DSA. With research on using nuclear medicine to detect cancer and other abnormalities, Perry Sprawls received Clemson’s first Ph.D. in Bioengineering in 1968. He already had a Clemson Bachelor’s degree in physics, a minor in engineering and a Master’s degree in nuclear science. The degrees were the foundation of a career devoted to the science and engineering of medical imaging and radiology. His 45-year tenure on the faculty of Emory University School of Medicine concluded in 2005 with the title of Distinguished Emeritus Professor. At Emory, a major focus of his effort was the development of educational programs and resources to support the many new developments in medical imaging technology including mammography, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging. Simultaneously, he conducted research and development in using technology to improve the educational process, for which he received national and international innovation awards.

Dr. Sprawls realized that his Clemson education and extensive clinical medical imaging experience at Emory would be of value to the entire world, especially to emerging market economies, as new imaging methods were becoming available. For 25 years, this has been a major effort for Dr. Sprawls. The Sprawls Educational Foundation is the organization under which much of this work is accomplished. The Foundation also collaborates with national and international scientific organizations. Dr. Sprawls’s extensive collection of educational materials, including textbooks, online modules, and high-quality visuals for classroom use, the Sprawls Resources, are freely available. These resources are used in the Sprawls Collaborative Teaching Network, through which Dr. Sprawls supports the development of medical imaging education programs and teachers worldwide. His has taught face-to-face in classrooms in 15 countries, to students from over 50 countries. As Dr. Sprawls notes, through his continuing efforts, “Clemson Bioengineering Tiger Paw Prints are all over the world.”

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Clemson Distinguished Service Award Winners


Jeannette Rodriguez Poster Takes 2nd Place at 33rd SEBEC

Jeannette Rodriguez, a student of Dr. Vladimir Reukov, took 2nd place in the 2017 Conference Poster Competition with “Towards The Prevention Of Oxidative Damage Via Novel Antioxidant Conjugates."


Dylan Richards Awarded National Institutes of Health T32 Renewal

In 2014, Dylan was awarded two years of support through Medical University of South Carolina's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute T32, "Training to Improve Cardiovascular Therapies." He re-applied for an additional year, and in 2017 was awarded a 3rd year on the training grant.

Asked about his research, Dylan, a student of Dr. Ying Mei of the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, said: “My Ph.D. research has focused on engineering human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte (hiPSC-CM) microtissues to address the major challenges in cardiac-tissue engineering solutions for heart failure. I have addressed advancing the maturation of hiPSC-CMs and creating a more biomimetic model using cardiac organoids that incorporate cell-cell, cell-matrix, and structural (e.g., vessels) components in the heart.”

Dylan enjoys collaborating with his lab mates and others. “Two minds are better than one, especially in the field of bioengineering. In the end, the freedom I have in Dr. Mei's lab to work across projects/field has encouraged me to strengthen my own capabilities to better contribute to the next project.” Outside the lab, Dylan likewise enjoys spending time with friends and volunteering. “When I'm not working, I enjoy helping others, whether it's helping someone move (there's always somebody moving in Charleston), helping out homeless friends, and most recently using my French minor from college to help translate/teach English for a local Congolese refugee family. I also really enjoy being in the ocean, playing strategy board games (Killer Bunnies=best game), playing percussion/piano in jam bands, growing vegetables, and a million other things.”

According to the NIH, the T32 award helps ensure a diverse, highly trained workforce to meet the Nation’s biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research needs. The T32 provides a strong foundation in research design, methods, and analytic techniques; training to conceptualize research problems; experience in research, presentation, and publication; interaction with the scientific community; and enhanced understanding of the health-related sciences.