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Felix Agbavor and Shreya Soni Win the 2023 BIOMED Student Best Paper Award

March 22, 2023

Felix Agbavor  and Shreya Soni, both PhD candidates, School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems (Advisors: H. Liang and C. Rodell, respectively), won the 2023 BIOMED Student Best Paper Award for their outstanding work and publication as first authors of their respective papers.

Felix AgbavorFelix’s paper, titled “Predicting Dementia from Spontaneous Speech Using Large Language Models” (Co-authors: F. Agbavor and H. Liang), was published in the December 2022 edition of the journal Public Library of Science (PLOS). Felix and his team’s work shows for the first time that the large language model GPT-3 can be used to predict dementia from spontaneous speech by leveraging the vast semantic knowledge encoded in the GPT-3 model to generate text embedding that captures the semantic meaning of the input. Their work demonstrates that the text embedding can be reliably used to (1) distinguish individuals with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from healthy controls, and (2) infer the subject’s cognitive testing score, both solely based on speech data, in addition to showing that text embedding considerably outperforms the conventional acoustic feature-based approach. Their results suggest that GPT-3 based text embedding is a viable approach for AD assessment directly from speech and has the potential to improve early diagnosis of dementia.

Shreya SoniShreya’s paper, titled “Sustained Release of Drug-Loaded Nanoparticles from Injectable Hydrogels Enables Long-term Control of Macrophage Phenotype” (Co-authors: S.S. Soni, A.M. D'Elia, A. Alsasa, S. Cho, T. Tylek, E.M. O'Brien, R. Whitaker, K.L. Spiller, and C.B. Rodell), was published in the October 2022 edition of the journal Biomaterials Science. Shreya and her team developed an injectable hydrogel system composed of a macrophage-targeted nanoparticle (cyclodextrin nanoparticles, CDNPs) crosslinked by adamantane-modified hyaluronic acid (Ad-HA). The polymer-nanoparticle hydrogel uniquely leverages cyclodextrin's interaction with small molecule drugs to create a spatially discrete drug reservoir with adamantane to yield dynamic, injectable hydrogels. This modular hydrogel system is a promising approach to locally modulate cell-specific phenotype in a range of applications for immunoregenerative medicine.