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Karissa Barbarevech, Arielle D'Elia, and Bryan Kwok Win the 2024 BIOMED Student Best Paper Award

March 22, 2024

Karissa Barbarevech, Arielle D'Elia, and Bryan Kwok, all PhD candidates in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems (Advisors: P. Lewin, C. Rodell, and L. Han, respectively), won the 2024 BIOMED Student Best Paper Award for their outstanding work and publication as first authors of their respective papers.

Karissa BarbarevechKarissa's paper, titled "Design of Point-of-Care Ultrasound Device to be Used in at-Home Setting – A Holistic Approach" (Co-Authors: K. Barbarevech, M.E. Schafer, R.A. DiMaria-Ghalili, J. Hyatt, and P.A. Lewin) was published in the December 2023 Issue of IEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control. The publication details a novel, fully wearable device design that is optimized for treatment of chronic wounds for patients themselves to administer safely and comfortably. Current standards of care for chronic wounds are inefficacious and put a significant financial and time burden on the healthcare system. Karissa and her team addressed the resulting need for alternate treatment options and developed a patient safe, fully wearable, low weight, battery powered device for the treatment of chronic wounds in the home setting. The team previously reported treatment with low frequency (20-100 kHz) low-intensity (50-100 mW/cm2) ultrasound applicator that significantly reduced venous and diabetic ulcer size in comparison to sham treated patients. This paper details how the second-generation device not only opens the door to future studies, but it also ultimately improves the quality of life of the patients. Although the holistic approach presented has been applied to the design of an applicator for chronic wounds, the design considerations and execution provide a road map that is applicable to any device targeted for home use.

Arielle D'EliaArielle’s paper, titled “Injectable Granular Hydrogels Enable Avidity-Controlled Biotherapeutic Delivery” (Co-authors: A. D'Elia, O.L. Jones, G. Canziani, B. Sarkar, I. Chaiken, and C.B. Rodell), was published in the February 2024 edition of the journal ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. Arielle and her team developed an approach to control the release of multiple biomolecules via engineered protein avidity for an injectable hydrogel carrier. The delivery system leverages guest-host complexation between β-cyclodextrin (a molecular host, modified to form an injectable granular hydrogel) and adamantane (a guest, covalently conjugated to proteins of interest) to enable sustained biomolecule presentation. Their work showed that the number of guest groups attached to the proteins enabled control over protein release kinetics, and that the modification did not alter protein function including for immunomodulatory cytokines. This injectable material platform is able to control the release of multiple included proteins at different rates, and is applicable to a range of biotherapeutics (e.g., chemokines, cytokines, and antibodies) that may benefit from sustained local delivery, including for tissue repair.

Bryan KwokBryan's paper, titled "Rapid Specialization and Stiffening of the Primitive Matrix in Developing Articular Cartilage and Meniscus" (Co-authors: B. Kwok, P. Chandrasekaran, C. Wang, L. He, R.L. Mauck, N.A. Dyment, E. Koyama, and L. Han) was published in the September 2023 edition of the journal Acta Biomaterialia. This study is the first to elucidate the distinctive traits of the initial, developing extracellular matrices (ECMs) of articular cartilage and meniscus by studying these two tissues in mice from mid-gestation to neo-natal stages. Results showed that knee articular cartilage initiates with the formation of a pericellular matrix (PCM)-like primitive matrix, followed by the separation into distinct PCM and territorial/interterritorial (T/IT)-ECM domains. In this process, the primitive matrix undergoes a rapid, exponential stiffening, with a daily modulus increase of ~ 36%. In comparison, the knee meniscus undergoes delayed separation of PCM and (T/IT)-ECM with a daily modulus increase of ~ 20%. These results together highlighted the rapid and distinct development traits of the primitive matrices for these two tissues, providing new benchmarks for developing novel tissue engineering strategies to recapitulate the native matrix development process for osteoarthritis intervention.