Program in Bioengineering
313 Snell Engineering Center
Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115
Email: eji412 [at] gmail.com
Degree Objective: Ph.D. Bioengineering
Hometown: Piscataway, NJ
Prior Degrees: M.Sc. Innovation Mgmt. & Entrepreneurship, B.Sc. Biochemical Engineering
Undergraduate Institution: University of Maryland Baltimore County
For as long as I can remember have I been fascinated with how things function, why they were made to function that way, how they can be improved and how these functions and improvements can be applied to the human body. This curiosity prompted my studies in biochemical engineering. As I progressed in my studies I realized that I not only had a passion to understand the function behind form, but also a passion for understanding how devices, products, and systems could be improved, and how these innovations could be implemented in a meaningful way.
I have had a range of research experiences. My first was a nanotechnology internship at Rutgers University under the guidance of Dr. Lisa Klein and Dr. Richard Haber. My next was a bacterial biofilm adhesion study with under Dr. Julia Ross, at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, (UMBC). Later, I participated in two separate summer experiences working with Dr. Thomas Webster at Brown University working on enhancing osteoblast adhesion to drug coated anodized titanium surfaces. In the summer of 2008 I got a taste of research in industry during my process optimization Bioreactor scale down research at Eli Lilly.
My current project investigates the use of an anti-adhesive protein called lubricin to prevent lens biofouling complications after cataract surgery. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the world. A cataract occurs when the natural lens of the eye becomes cloudy and opaque. Cataract surgery removes the natural lens of the eye and replaces the lens with an artificial polymer material called an intraocular lens (IOL). Over 6 million cataract surgeries involving IOLs are preformed worldwide. This procedure is the most common surgery in the world; however, there are still possible complications. Three possible complications are the deposition of calcium on the surface of the lens, the encroachment of cells onto the surface of the lens, and the infection of bacteria after surgery. All three could lead to a loss of vision. The bacterial infection could be so severe that the patient could lose all perception of light in the affected eye.
My research focuses on preventing these three biofouling issues by coating IOL surfaces with lubricin. Lubricin is an anti-adhesive protein that is the primary lubricant in synovial fluid, the lubricating fluid in joints between cartilage surfaces. The current branch of my research deals with understanding how lubricin prevents bacterial surface interactions. I am still developing protocols for testing lubricin’s effectiveness at preventing cellular encroachment and calcium deposition
During my time at Brown I completed the PRIME (Program in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship) masters program. This program truly opened my eyes to many of the aspects and challenges of taking scientific discovery and applying it to different novel products and devices that would be successful on a global market. This program also gave me insight into the importance of ensuring that whatever I was working on would address a global need.
Additionally, over the past year and a half, I have been a part of the GK-12 fellowship program which involved regularly preparing and giving scientific lessons to elementary school children. This program helped to show me the importance of researchers sharing their science and giving back to the community in order to foster the growth of the next generation of young scientists.
My goal after I graduate is to establish my own company which will research, develop, and market technologies and techniques which will aid in rapid tissue re-growth and repair. My dream is to start a research company which will operate on a global scale to optimize current methods as well as develop new methods to improve tissue repair.