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Bioengineering News

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 PhD 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.

Ryan Borem Awarded NSF GRFP Renewal

A United States Army combat veteran and current BIOE Ph.D. student, Ryan’s research focuses on the development of a tissue engineering scaffold to assist in the repair and regeneration of intervertebral discs in people suffering from back pain. He describes his life and work:

"By supporting me in pursuit of a doctorate in bioengineering, The National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) has allowed me to continue my research, which focuses on the development of a tissue-engineered device for intervertebral disc repair. This medical device works to promote tissue regeneration of an intervertebral disc through incorporation of biologic tissue and human stem cells. I have the opportunity to work for an advisor (Dr. Jeremy Mercuri) who ensures that our research always has a translational aspect to it. We never lose sight that at the end of the day, we are trying to help patients through basic science studies and the development of biomaterials and stem cell technologies. With Dr. Mercuri’s mentorship, my wife’s ongoing love and support, and the NSF GRFP, I am able to focus on research that will one day improve the quality of life for future generations."

Senior Emily Gullette receives scholarship, internship opportunity from Hubbell Lighting Inc.

Hubbell Lighting Inc., a world leader in lighting innovation, and the Hubbell Foundation have pledged $250,000 to Clemson University to establish the Hubbell Foundation Engineering Scholarship Endowment.

A celebration at Clemson this week honored the first five engineering students to receive scholarships as part of the endowment.

Cottle Speaks About Disparities

Dr. Renee Cottle was asked to join a faculty-student panel to discuss racial and gender disparities in science, technology, engineering and math.

DesJardins and Bina Study Helmet Safety


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 75 percent of traumatic brain injuries that occur each year are concussions. A team of Clemson University researchers and an Upstate businessman believe they can help make football a little safer by creating a facemask that can help reduce the severity of head injuries by increasing overall helmet protection.

Zhang advocates for Convergence

Dr. Guigen Zhang (right) and Korean delegates to the 2016 Annual Conference of the Institute of Biological Engineering held in Greenville, SC.

On January 1, 2017, Guigen Zhang, Professor and Associate Chair for Program Development and Outreach, Department of Bioengineering; and Executive Director, Institute of Biological Interfaces of Engineering, began his term as president of the Institute of Biological Engineering. Here, Zhang shares his vision on the possibility of a biological revolution and his belief in solving worldwide problems through convergence. IBE, a professional society, was started in 1995.

For 21 plus years, IBE has been supporting the community of scientists and engineers who are at the forefront of creating new linkages between biology and engineering: It seeks far-reaching opportunities for connecting with people and developing designs and educational perspectives through biology-inspired engineering. To me, what sets IBE apart from many other professional societies is its focus on addressing the grand challenges (or, the biggest problems, in Bill Gates’s words) of our times — sustainable food, energy, and environmental systems and quality health — rather than on advancing any specific scientific discipline, by using inclusive approaches through the broadest network of partners from all fields of life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, etc.

As president, I plan to energize the IBE leadership team and members and forge coalitions with sister societies to make a dent in bringing on the much anticipated Biological Revolution for the 21 st century (in reference to the Industrial Revolution and Digital Revolution of the past two centuries). I plan to use IBE as a professional platform to bring awareness of the increasing importance of transdisciplinary integration of life sciences, physical sciences and engineering for developing deeper understanding of complex living systems and for engineering novel solutions to address the grand challenges of our times — sustainable food, energy, and environmental systems and quality health in the spirit of seeking convergence.

For example, we have defined the theme of the 2017 IBE Annual Conference to promote convergence in several topical areas including synthetic biology, tissue engineering, nanotechnology, biosensors, biomaterials, metabolic engineering, environmental engineering, bioprocessing engineering and bioenergetics, among others. With support from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, I will host a special session on “Convergence for Advancing Regulatory Science” with an invited panel of influential scientists, engineers, regulators and think-tank members to engage the audience to brainstorm the meaning, needs, ethics and challenges of regulatory science and identify best practices to advance regulatory science and innovation through convergence of disciplines. Moreover, to instill this in future movers and shakers, we plan a Bioethics Essay Contest for graduate and undergraduate students on issues involved in regulatory science, approval of drugs and therapeutic devices and ways to advance regulatory science in the spirit of seeking convergences.

In my mind, the most important challenge facing today’s biological engineers is the same one facing all other engineers, that is, to break away from the disciplinary confinement of learning, exploring and innovating. In a textbook to be published in March 2017, I devote the first chapter to laying out my arguments and suggestions for promoting a transdisciplinary way of engineering and innovating. Biological engineering actually is well positioned to overcome this challenge. I strongly believe that we can be much more effective and productive in tackling the biggest problems of our time if we pay attention to the common threads and hidden interdependencies among food, energy, the environment and health.

Some of the new frontiers of biological engineering involve synthetic biology and genetic engineering. The knowledge made in these fields will offer groundbreaking opportunities to advance the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, among others. Take the scaffolds needed in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, for example: If they no longer have to be constructed using synthetic materials or demineralized tissues, but can be made of biological and/or genetic materials instead, many of the difficulties hindering realization of the bounteous promises of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine could be eliminated. Along the way, imagine how many new possibilities and paradigms the field of biological engineering could offer for solving health, food, energy and environmental problems with the fewest unintended consequences.

Introduction to Integrative Engineering by Guigen Zhang
CRC Press

The 2017 Annual Meeting of the Institute of Biological Engineering will be in Salt Lake City, Utah, March 30-April 1, 2017.

American Heart Association Funds Richardson


Dr. William Richardson and his lab were recently awarded a Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association to support highly promising beginning scientists in cardiovascular and stroke research. The $231,000 grant will support investigation of mechano-adaptive cell signaling related to cardiac healing after a heart attack. According to Dr. Richardson, “Our lab is using a computer model of scar healing to test the effects of potential drugs that could allow us to control, based on local mechanical forces, where, when, and how much scar is deposited. Such a drug would improve cardiac function after a heart attack. Furthermore, we will continue developing the computer model as a tool to predict effects of numerous drugs and devices on long-term scar structure.”

McMahan Receives Helping Hand Award


Chad McMahan, the department’s Histology Lab manager and officer for safety and compliance, was recognized by the National Society for Histotechnology at its 42nd annual NSH Symposium in Long Beach, California, September 18-21, 2016. The society’s Helping Hand Award recognized McMahan’s excellence in sharing scientific and technical knowledge in the histology community.

McMahan has just completed a two-year term as president of the SC Society of Histology Technicians. He said, “I value leadership in both members and officers. Encouraging students to be thinkers and leaders in their profession is my greatest contribution as president.” McMahan presided over the state’s 2016 meeting of histologists at Litchfield, SC, November 3-6. Activities included hosting career days for over 200 students from five high schools in the Pawley’s Island area. Beginning with lectures covering histology fundamentals and pathological diagnosis, the experience provided several wet-lab workstations including microtomy, cryotomy, staining, microscopy slide review and hands-on exploration of biomaterial implants. The experience complemented STEM activities held at each school. Of his term in office, McMahan said, “Participating on the state and national level greatly encourages me because I have the opportunity to support, challenge and connect with my peers. My greatest desire is that cancer research will continue locally, statewide and across the world.”

As a member of the department’s research staff, McMahan has a range of responsibilities. “I ensure that students working in the histology labs have proper training. I assist with sample preservation, sectioning samples with biomedical implant devices and staining slides with various techniques. I assist in all methodologies of histology fundamentals to produce a slide with values of complete sample morphology and cellular details. Graduate and undergraduate students encourage me to stretch my limits to assist them with great challenges. Repeating experiments, sectioning difficulties and staining variabilities are several roadblocks that students face. My duties include being research safety liaison and manager of our $10M inventory. Through our department, I collaborate with researchers and students from CECAS, CAFLS and CES.

Regarding his role as safety officer, McMahan stated, “We consistently ensure safety showers and eye washes are functioning properly. Fire extinguishers and other aspects of building safety compliance are monitored. We keep accurate training logs for all students who complete required safety modules. Safety is top priority when researchers and students are involved with biologics and the chemicals required in bioengineering research. We train, train and re-train to insure student compliance. Students are our greatest asset: I would not do what I do without our students.

New Clemson Bioengineering Traveling Exhibit


Always seeking the best ways to communicate with future bioengineers, the department specified a traveling exhibit that debuted at the 2016 BMES annual meeting. The exhibit includes a 10 ft. truss for three vertical banners, adjustable tabletops, a monitor mount, a counter and spotlights. Assembly is toolless. According to Graduate Student Services Coordinator Maria Torres, the exhibit is “techie, slick and vibrant. The crowd in Minneapolis was impressed and had very good comments about our video and the ability to fill out a short online application on site.” As Team BIOE, Torres and several graduate students managed the display throughout the meeting, encouraging passersby to enter a raffle for Clemson headphones, take a set of tiger paw logo retractable earbuds, talk with Clemson students, and apply online.

Dr. John Desjardins Delivers Winning Pitch at 6th Annual SCBIO Conference


At SCBIO Live 2016, South Carolina’s annual life science industry conference, Dr. John Desjardins of Aravis Biotech and Clemson’s Department of Bioengineering won the SCRA Pitch Contest. The $2,500 prize was sponsored by Southeastern Institute of Manufacturing and Technology, South Carolina Research Authority and Carolina Biotech Group. It was awarded at SCBIO’s sixth annual conference, held November 10-11 at Greenville’s Westin Poinsett.

Two CU bioengineering alumni, Rebecca DeLegge, co-founder and president of DeLegge Medical, and Matthew R. Gevaert, co-founder and CEO of Kiyatec, were recognized for their dedication to advancement of the life sciences in South Carolina. At the career fair that preceded the conference, students with industry representatives advertising 40 open technical positions. A platinum sponsor, Clemson Bioengineering hosted the panel breakfast with keynote speaker Dr. Christopher Austin, Director of the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

SCBIO is a member organization that supports South Carolina’s life science industry through collaboration, advocacy, workforce development, and business operations support. Its goal is to ensure that South Carolina’s companies, research institutions, and citizens reap the economic and societal benefits of a world-class life sciences cluster. The following companies were represented at the career fair: AmbioPharm, AVX, Capsugel, Foster Healing, Milliken Healthcare Products, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Poly-Med, Inc., SCRA and The Ritedose Corporation.

Bioengineering Lunch and Learn Series

Lunch and Learn Logos

The Department of Bioengineering’s Lunch and Learn Series is an industry- and business-related event where biotech professionals describe their work or focus, answer students’ questions, and dine with students. Most of the sessions address professional development and how students can best position themselves to obtain experience and prepare for a career. Speakers during the Fall 2016 semester were

  • Drew Green (CU BIOE Alumnus), CEO at Cormatrix.
  • Ray Boudreaux, PhD (CU BIOE Alumnus), and Emma Moran, PhD, Research Engineers at Cook Medical
  • Jerome Klawitter, PhD (CU BIOE Alumnus), VP of Advanced Development at Integra Life Sciences
  • Richard Hing, Sales Engineer at Zeus

The Fall series concluded with a product demonstration from Zeus. The South Carolina-based company, a worldwide leader in polymer tubing, presented a locker of materials to the Senior Design class to support student design of prototype devices. If you would like to be a guest in our Spring 2017 Lunch and Learn Series, please contact Jennifer Hogan at

The Clemson University Department of Bioengineering is proud to announce its newest student award, The R. Larry Dooley Entrepreneurship Award in recognition of Dr. Dooley's legacy as a mentor and innovator.

Ideas: Making Them Real


In 30+ years at Clemson, R. Larry Dooley began every day having ideas. These then turned into partnerships, alliances, and centers that continue to attract educators, researchers, and year after year, classrooms full of bioengineering students. Presently Professor Emeritus of Clemson University Department of Bioengineering, Dr. Dooley retired in 2016 after more than 30 years as a teacher, mentor and author. He followed his career path at Clemson University as Director of the Bioengineering Alliance of South Carolina (1986-1994), Chair of the Department of Bioengineering (1994-2002), Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies in the College of Engineering and Science (2002-2011), Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Science (2011-2012), and Interim Vice-President for Research at Clemson University (2013-2016). He served on numerous boards and was expert in scientific visualization, computational modeling, advanced manufacturing techniques and microstructural engineering of materials.

Dr. Dooley earned his B.S. in mechanical engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He completed his Master’s work at Clemson University and in 1976, finished his Doctorate in bioengineering there. He was named professor of bioengineering at Clemson in 1985. Dr. Dooley served as Interim Vice President for Research at Clemson. In this role, he oversaw research and sponsored activities campus-wide. Earlier, Dr. Dooley was named Interim Dean of the College of Engineering and Science. In that capacity, he led 14 academic departments and an enrollment of 5,000 students, with 23 undergraduate and 45 graduate degree programs. Prior to his role as interim dean, Dr. Dooley served as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies for the then College of Engineering and Science. He coordinated the college’s graduate-level activities—including oversight of the college’s research centers, alliances, and institutes.

Dr. Dooley’s vision was that founding alliances among state institutions of higher education would strengthen the state’s bid to attract research funding and increase collaborative relationships. The South Carolina Bioengineering Alliance (SCBA) was established by the state Commission on Higher Education in 1985 among Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), and the University of South Carolina (USC). From 1986-1994, Dr. Dooley directed the Alliance. Its mandate is to lead the state-wide initiative to promote and strengthen bioengineering research, education, and technology transfer. It so acts today, serving to organize and activate alliances that support the organization’s mandate.

In 1998, Dr. Dooley played a major role in convincing the National Science Foundation to fund the Center for Advanced Engineering Fibers and Films (CAEFF) at Clemson University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Industrial partners were 3M, Amoco Performance Products, Clark-Schwebel, Dow, DuPont, PPG, Shell, Owens Corning and others. Investigators explored how fiber and film industries can speed development of new products through innovative computer modeling. The center made it easier for engineers to visualize film and fiber design on a molecular level and then plan a clear developmental pathway to manufacture the finished product. The center created a new model for collaboration between engineers and computational scientists.

In 2003, Dr. Dooley saw another of his projects come to fruition: An educational and research partnership between Clemson and MUSC was formally recognized by both schools. Sowing the seeds of this program, Dr. Dooley foresaw that the value that would accrue to each school would far exceed what either could amass alone. This value is manifested today in award-winning students and multidisciplinary and translational research.

Simultaneously, Dr. Dooley was working on a public-private partnership, and in 2004, the legislature designated this undertaking as Regenerative Medicine Center of Economic Excellence. All three of the state’s research universities (Clemson, MUSC, USC) entered into an association with private entities Health Sciences South Carolina and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation. The center’s goals are fostering basic research in genetics, proteogenomics, developmental biology, cell biology, and physiology of stem cells; translating the research into novel therapies; collaborating with the private sector to develop business innovation research grants; and establishing predoctoral and postdoctoral training programs in stem cell technology, developmental biology, biomaterials and tissue engineering.

In 2009, Dr. Dooley was instrumental in forging the state’s then most comprehensive public alliance as he joined representatives of nine other South Carolina institutions of higher education. The group persuaded the National Science Foundation to fund the South Carolina Project for Organ Biofabrication through a Research Infrastructure Improvement Grant. The statewide alliance in the field of tissue biofabrication included Claflin University, Clemson University, Denmark Technical College, Furman University, Greenville Technical College, the Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, the University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina Beaufort, and Voorhees College. The South Carolina Project’s goal was to build scientific, technological, and educational capacity for the biofabrication of human organs by advancing intellectual and physical infrastructure. Dr. Dooley was Clemson’s PI on this integrated plan to implement a statewide vision to give South Carolina a competitive edge in the field of biofabrication.

Dr. Dooley was also key in building the public-private partnership, the SmartState Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Center of Economic Excellence. The center continues and sustains the work and values of the National Science Foundation award.

According to Dr. Martine LaBerge, Clemson’s current chair of the Department of Bioengineering, “Professor Dooley serves as an exemplary role model of leadership and engagement. His vision has led to the development of the Clemson-MUSC Bioengineering Program, among many other large state-wide programs strengthening collaborations among institutions. His collegiality has been motivating. His dedication to students has been and will continue to be an inspiration to all.”

Dabo Swinney All In Foundation Supports Bioengineering

Brian Booth

Recently appointed assistant professor of bioengineering Dr. Brian Booth received another vote of confidence on October 17, 2016. For the third time, Tiger football coach Dabo Swinney’s All In Team Foundation funded Booth’s proposed breast cancer research. The foundation has been behind Booth from his first studies showing that tannic acid, a naturally occurring anticancer agent, kills ER+ and HER2+ breast cancer cells at a greater rate than normal breast cells.

According to Booth, “We are working to develop an injectable matrix of small collagen beads and tannic acid that will facilitate tissue regeneration following a lumpectomy. When a patient’s own cells grow on the matrix of beads, the anticancer agent will be released, killing any residual cancer cells and inhibiting tumor recurrence.” The first year of the new grant will allow the Booth lab to perform laboratory experiments to refine the matrix. In the grant’s second year, Booth’s lab will translate the results into preliminary animal experiments.

Booth describes graduate Lauren Jordan, who finished her M.S. degree in bioengineering working on this project with the support of Dabo’s All-In Team Foundation, with pride. “We have been able to present the research at international scientific conferences including the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting and the Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting. We have published two scientific papers about our results so far, have another accepted for publication, and a fourth is currently being prepared for submission.” He added, “Potentially, this research could translate to other soft tissue cancers such as melanoma. The matrix will also be applicable to soft tissue regeneration such as after injury or trauma.”

Dr. Dan Simionescu awarded new NIH grant

Dr. Dan Simionescu, the Harriet and Jerry Dempsey Professor of Bioengineering, was recently awarded a new R56 grant for “Tissue engineering and regeneration of the aortic root” from the National Institutes of Health. This $410k, “High Priority, Short Term Project Award” from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will support efforts to regenerate heart valves using scaffolds, stem cells and bioreactors. The research team is comprised of Dr. Jeffrey Gimble and Dr. Bruce Bunnell of Tulane University and LaCell LLC, Dr. Leslie Sierad of Aptus LLC in Clemson, Dr. Jun Liao of Mississippi State University and Dr. Chris Wright, thoracic surgeon at the Greenville Health System.

Team BIOE and SCBIO, a winning partnership!

Clemson Bioengineering will be highly represented at the SCBIO Annual Conference November 10-11, 2016 in Greenville. Not only will our students show leadership and entrepreneurial engagement, they will also use this opportunity for networking with biotech industry.

Hai Yao appointed new Ernest R. Norville Endowed Chair

A Clemson University professor who plays a key role in bringing together some of South Carolina’s leading minds for bioengineering research is the new Ernest R. Norville Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering. Hai Yao’s appointment comes as the result of a $1.5-million gift from Mitch and Carla Norville. Mitch Norville received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson in 1980, and the endowed chair is named after his father.

Congratulations to Bioengineering Alumni!

Read about the recent accomplishments of our Bioengineering Alumni.

Clemson’s student chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society was awarded the Commendable Achievement Award for 2016. The students were recognized for their activities to increase biomedical engineering knowledge and its utilization.

Dr. Melinda Harman participated this summer in the PEER FIRE program, which provides outreach activity to incoming freshmen who are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math.

Graduate Student Sarah Rowlinson Named An Outstanding Clemson Woman for 2016
Annually, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women holds a competition in several categories. This year, Sarah Rowlinson, a graduate student advised by Dr. Karen Burg, was named outstanding woman in the graduate student category. 3/31/2016

Clemson Bioengineers Receive Awards at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Heart Valve Society

Dr. Dan Simionescu and Ph.D. students Chris deBorde and Hobey Tam were awarded best poster presentation and best abstract oral presentation. 3/28/2016

Justin Shaw: Epicenter University Innovation Fellow
This national program empowers student leaders to increase campus engagement with innovation, entrepreneurship, creativity and design.

USTA Campus Leader Award
Jennifer Andersongraduate research assistant in bioengineering, was honored last month as United States Tennis Association (USTA) Southern Tennis on Campus Leader of the Year award recipient. The annual award is given to a student who has demonstrated leadership by contributing heavily to his or her campus tennis program. 2/16/2016

Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award
Angela Alexander-Bryant, postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Jeoung Soo Lee’s lab, has been recognized by the American Association for Cancer Research with a Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award. Angela is part of the CU-MUSC program in Charleston. 2/10/2016

AACU Recognizes Przestrzelski
Breanne Przestrzelski, a student of Dr. John DesJardins, has been recognized as an exceptional student by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Since coming to Clemson, Breanne has helped the university fulfill its mission of teaching, research, and public service. 1/26/16

Board Member to be Inducted into AIMBE
Departmental Advisory Board member Rifat Pamukcu, M.D., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Midway Pharmaceuticals, will be inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. 1/20/2016

Zhang Elected to Lead IBE
Dr. Guigen Zhang was elected president-elect of the Institute of Biological Engineering for the 2016-2017 term. His tenure as IBE president will be the 2017-2018 term. 1/4/16

Zhang Named Executive Editor of Biomaterials Forum
In January 2016, Dr. Guigen Zhang assumed the editorship of the official newsletter of the Society For Biomaterials. Founded in 1974, the Society is an interdisciplinary, international group dedicated to advancements in biomaterials science. 1/4/16