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Students Create Mock Livers, Kidneys Used for Training Across the World

November 20, 2023


The summer heading into her junior year, Madison Titlow was at a crossroads.

A biomedical engineering major, Titlow didn’t have a minor, wasn’t interested in pursuing a master’s degree but knew she wanted to delve into something that took her out of her comfort zone.

She reached out to Steven Kurtz, PhD, director of Drexel’s Implant Research Center at the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, to see if any opportunities were available.

“I had never stepped off the path I was on and was very intimidated because I didn’t have any experience, but he was so welcoming,” Titlow said.

She was put to work on a project with Abigail Tetteh, a PhD student, first to make replicas of livers, and then kidneys, using 3D printers at the Implant Research Center. The replicas are used to train surgeons and other health care providers on how to preserve these complex organs prior to transplantation.

Titlow and Tetteh’s work was part of a project with multiple partners including Bridge to Life Ltd., an Illinois company that makes organ transplant medical devices; Philadelphia-based Gift of Life Donor Program; and David Reich MD, an internationally recognized leader in organ transplant surgery who was chief of transplantation at Drexel’s College of Medicine, is now at the Cleveland Clinic in Weston, Florida, and also remains Professor of Surgery and of Biomedical Engineering at Drexel.

In addition to its research impacts, the project also had a significant impact on the students’ educational experience. For Titlow, it led to a career path — a co-op and then job after graduating in June 2023. For Tetteh, it helped secure a year-long fellowship with the FDA.

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