University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering students Alex Josowitz, Saundria Moed, and Timothy Keane, PhD—students under the leadership of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members David Vorp, PhD/Justin Weinbaum, PhD, Ian Sigal, PhD, and Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, respectively—received awards from the Whitaker International Program. Mr. Josowitz and Ms. Moed were appointed as 2016 Whitaker Fellows, and Dr. Keane was appointed as the 2016 Whitaker Scholar.
Whitaker Fellows and Scholars spend 1 to 2 years abroad (outside of the U.S. and Canada) to conduct research in a university or laboratory, pursue coursework at an academic institution, or intern at a policy institute or in an industrial or non-profit setting.
The Whitaker award provides round-trip international airfare, a monthly living stipend, and other benefits to facilitate the students’ time abroad. Recipients of this national award must demonstrate outstanding scholarship, a strong background in research, and a well-thought out research plan for the duration of the fellowship to be selected.
“Whitaker Fellows and Scholars represent world-class student researchers and the future leaders of global collaboration in bioengineering,” said McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Sanjeev Shroff, PhD, Distinguished Professor and Gerald McGinnis Chair of Bioengineering at Pitt. “These three students have an excellent opportunity not only to gain international experience but also to serve as ambassadors for Pitt research outside of the U.S.”
Mr. Josowitz will travel to the United Kingdom and work in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Krams at the Imperial College London. His research project will focus on optimizing the RNA isolation protocol for a microfluidic cell-capture system to provide new insight into the progression of cardiovascular diseases. Mr. Josowitz will also be enrolled in the Master of Research program in biomedical engineering at the Imperial College London. As an undergraduate student at Pitt, Mr. Josowitz has conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. Vorp, Associate Dean for Research and William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering, and Dr. Weinbaum, research assistant professor. He has been working to develop and evaluate a novel technique of uniformly seeding 3D tubular constructs with cells or cell-like structures, such as microspheres, in tissue-engineered blood vessels.
Ms. Moed will travel to Israel and work in the laboratory of Prof. Rosa Azhari and Dr. Idit Golani at the Ort Braude College of Engineering in Karmiel, Israel. Her research project will focus on enhancing the delivery of active materials to the brain using nanoparticles. Ms. Moed participated in two independent research activities in Israel last summer at Ort Braude College of Engineering in Karmiel and at Technion Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa. As an undergraduate student at Pitt, Ms. Moed conducted research under the mentorship of Dr. Sigal, assistant professor of ophthalmology at the School of Medicine’s Ocular Biomechanics Laboratory. Her research involves analyzing optical coherence tomography images for quantifying ocular tissue microstructure, especially collagen fibers.
Dr. Keane will travel to the United Kingdom and work in the laboratory of Dr. Molly Stevens as a postdoctoral fellow at the Imperial College London. His work will focus on developing a biomaterial that can mitigate inflammation in the heart following myocardial infarction. As a PhD candidate at Pitt, Dr. Keane conducted his research work under the mentorship of Dr. Badylak, professor in the Department of Surgery and deputy director of the McGowan Institute. He is focusing on developing minimally invasive therapies for treating inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract.
Congratulations to all!