Saturday, 28 of November of 2015

Category » Biomedical Engineering

Femtosecond Lasers Shape Biomaterials for Tissue Engineering

Fiorenzo Omenetto

As Optics and Photonics News states, “Current methods for shaping biomaterials, including soft- and photolithography, are limited to two dimensions and don’t offer much in the way of customization.” Tufts researchers, led by Associate Dean for Research and Professor, Fiorenzo Omenetto, “used low-energy (< nJ) femtosecond laser pulses to create 2-D and 3-D patterns in soft, transparent silk-protein hydrogels. They were able to achieve micromachining at a depth of 1 cm—reportedly more than 10 times deeper than any other biomaterial—at a lateral resolution of 5 µm.”

10 Groundbreaking Innovations That Are Changing How We Live

Details Daily Blog includes Tuft’s University discovery of a poly-silk bionink on their list of “10 Groundbreaking Innovations Changing How We Live”. This new discovery “will make printing tissues, organs, bone, and other organic materials a real possibility.”

Researchers develop 3D bone marrow that produces functional human platelets ex vivo

Biomedical engineering researches, funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering have “successfully developed a 3-dimensional (3D) tissue-engineered model of bone marrow that can produce functional human platelets outside the body (ex vivo)”, Health Medicine Network writes.


New Way To Repair Nerves

Qiaobing Xu

Tuft’s University biomedical engineers have been commended on Technology Networks article for their publication of  the “first report of a promising new way to induce human mesenchymal stem cells to differentiate into neuron-like cells:treating them with exosomes.” Tufts Assistant Professor, Qiaobing Xu, is the paper’s senior and corresponding author.


Biopsies Without Knives

Irene Georgakoudi

Irene Georgakoudi, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Tufts University is researching methods “to diagnose cancer at a cellular level, well before it grows into a visible lesion or tumor.”, shares TuftsNow“Although her techniques aren’t yet ready for clinical use, Georgakoudi is hopeful they could make a dramatic impact on the way cancers are identified—turning a dreaded disease into something that can be managed and treated before it spirals out of control.”

Tufts Names 2015 Summer Scholars

Tufts Summer Scholars program announced the 2015 Summer Scholars.

The Tufts Summer Scholars Program is funded by the Office of the Provost and by generous gifts from: Mr. Andrew Bendetson in honor of Laura and Martin Bendetson; Steven J. Eliopoulos A89 and Joyce J. Eliopoulos; Mr. George and Ms. Susan Kokulis; Mr. John L. Kokulis; Ms. Ashleigh Nelson; and the Board of Trustees in honor of former Chairman, Mr. Nathan Gantcher.

The Program is also supported by the Schwartz-Paddock Family Fellowships in the Visual and Performing Arts, the Helen and Werner Lob Student Research Fund in Economics, the Hopkins Summer Scholar Fund, and the Christopher Columbus Discovery Summer Scholarships for research spanning disciplinary boundaries. Summer Scholars is administered by the Office of Undergraduate Education.

Congratulations to all our engineering summer scholars!

Biomedical Engineering

Elim Na will work with Professor David Kaplan on his project on the “Evaluation of Silk Fibroin Stabilization of Doxorubicin and Vincristine.”

Chemical and Biological Engineering

Sylvia Lustig will work with Professor Maria Flytzani-Stephanopoulos on her project on the “The Selectivity and Efficiency of Various Single Atom Metal Alloys as Catalysts for the Dehydrogenation of Methanol.”

Mechanical Engineering

Kevin Ligonde will work with Associate Professor Robert White on a project to “Capacitive Micromachined Ultrasound Transducers for Mars Anemometry.”

Computer Science

Avita Sharma will work with Professor Soha Hassoun on a project on “Who is Doing What? Functional Matching between Metabolites and Genomics for Bacterial Pathways.”

Caleb Helbling will work with Professor Kathleen Fisher on a project to “Resequence: A Global Fine Grained Software Repository.”

Collins Sirmah will work with Assistant Professor Ben Shapiro on his project to “Peer Based Learning in Distributed and Parallel Computing Among High School Students.”

Electrical and Computer Engineering

Pengxiang (Jerry) Hu will work with Associate Professor Sameer Sonkusale on a project to “Study and Build Instrumentation for Saliva Diagnostics.” Peter Wu will work with Professor Jeffrey Hopwood on his project to “Improve Vintage Synthesizers for Increased Temperature Based Pitch Stability.”

Engineering Physics

Matthew Eakle will work with Professor Peggy Cebe on a project to “Understanding the Interactions Between Liquid Crystals and Carbon Nanotubes.”


Xu Wins NSF Award to Find New Ways to Deliver Drugs Directly into Cells


Qiaobing Xu

Qiaobing Xu

Qiaobing Xu, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biomedical engineering in Tufts University School of Engineering, has received a $498,899 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to fund research into a new way to deliver protein-based cancer-fighting drugs and other therapeutics into cells.

Such an approach would enable drugs to destroy cancerous growth more effectively than existing treatments and target other diseases traditionally considered “undruggable.”

Chemotherapy drugs attack all actively dividing cells—healthy and diseased alike—often causing significant side effects in the patients. New protein-based therapy, such as cytokines, monoclonal antibodies and growth factors, allow for highly targeted treatment. The problem is that, unlike compounds used in chemotherapy, proteins are too large to easily cross the cell membrane to penetrate into the cell cytoplasm. Instead, most of these protein therapies work by targeting specific receptors on the outside surface of diseased cells.

The NSF program supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.

Xu is developing a method way to transport the protein inside the cell safely and efficiently by binding it with a nanoparticle that can cross the cell membrane and, when safely inside, release the protein. In his approach, the protein is first chemically altered to give it a negative charge and then bound to a positively charged nanoparticle composed of lipids. The lipids then pass through the cell membrane, which is naturally negatively charged.

– See more at:

BME Spring Newsletter Available

David Kaplan

Stern Family Professor and BME Chair David Kaplan

Dear Alumni and Friends,

The department moves forward, led as always by outstanding students, staff and faculty. The growth and popularity of our program continues to provide many opportunities, perhaps most notably: the class of 2018 will be the first where there is no enrollment cap in the BSBME program. Students interested in majoring in BME will now submit a declaration of major form, like all other engineering students. Additionally, course offerings in entrepreneurship and product development are broadening the student experience. These courses link engineering fundamentals, design, and research with industrial professionals’ experiences for better understanding of how technologies intersect with business, and regulatory needs, and ultimately, how they impact patients. Such exposure encourages broader thinking and, balanced by the fundamentals, empowers students to make informed career decisions.

We are proud our students continue to receive awards in support of their research:  Kyle Alberti and Kelly Sullivan, fellowships from the American Heart Association; Meghan McGill, National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program Fellowship; Erica Palma, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Kirschstein-NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship; Sarah Lightfoot-Vidal, Fulbright Fellowship. Postdoctoral Scholar Kyle Quinn was awarded an NIH Pathway to Independence Award.

Among the faculty, Assistant Professor Qiaobing Xu was the recipient of the prestigious CAREER Award from the NSF for his work on an effective approach to transport protein-based drugs inside the cell, enabling a generation of new therapies for a variety of diseases. I am also happy to announce that Professor Fiorenzo Omenetto has been appointed the Associate Dean for Research in the School of Engineering, providing strategic advice to the dean on all matters related to research and technology development. And, congratulations to Associate Professor Irene Georgakoudi; she was elected to the AIMBE’s College of Fellows.

Looking towards the future, we aim to nurture accessible, cohesive, and exciting opportunities for our students to gain a global view on entrepreneurship and biomedical engineering. Building upon networks available through the Tufts European Center in Talloires, France and Tufts Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, we can better integrate international views on medical devices, regulation, business, and partnerships. We ask our alumni to consider working with the department to support our efforts, making an impact for students and enhancing the world around us. Your thoughts are welcome; we value your input, updates, and engagement in department activities.


Download the BME Spring 2015 newsletter.

Silk-Based Surgical Implants an Orthopedic Innovation

silkscrewThe latest silk-inspired innovation from the lab of biomedical engineering Professor David Kaplan is receiving media attention: silk-protein surgical screws that could transform the way we heal broken bones. Researchers from Kaplan’s lab and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center published their findings in the journal Nature Communications this March.

Surgical screws and plates, or “fixation devices” are used to repair fractured bones and are often made of metal alloys or synthetic polymers. However, metal implants place undue stress on the bone, are prone to infection, and must be surgically removed from the body once a fracture has healed. Synthetic screws are designed to be absorbed by the body, but they can be difficult to set and may cause inflammation.

The research team manufactured plates and screws from the silk protein produced by the Bombyx mori (B. mori) silkworm cocoons. A silk solution was cured into molds that produced easily machinable plates and screws. The silk screws are self-tapping, an improvement from conventional resorbable screws that require careful drilling of a screw hole before insertion of the hardware. In vivo tests showed the screws remain fixed in the bone at four and eight weeks with notable improvements in the healing and resorbtion process.

Professor Kaplan told BBC News: “The future is very exciting. We envision a whole set of orthopaedic devices for repair based on this – from plates and screws to almost any kind of device you can think of where you don’t want hardware left in the body.”

Some added benefits to the silk technology over metal fixation devices include decreased sensitivity to the cold and zero interference with X-ray technology or metal detectors. “One of the other big advantages of silk is that it can stabilize and deliver bioactive components, so that plates and screws made of silk could actually deliver antibiotics to prevent infection, pharmaceuticals to enhance bone regrowth and other therapeutics to support healing,” says Kaplan.

This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health (EB002520).

More coverage on this story: TuftsNow, New Scientist, The Telegraph, and Popular Science

Tufts University Alumni Association 2014 Senior Award Honorees

Each year, the Tufts University Alumni Association (TUAA) recognizes members of the senior class for academic achievement, participation in campus and community activities, and leadership. Twelve students are chosen from a pool of nominees for the TUAA Senior Award. This year’s cohort of Senior Award Honorees includes two engineering students: Briana Bouchard and Laura Burns.

Briana BouchardBriana Bouchard will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Bouchard served as Corporate Relations Chair and Publicity Chair for Tufts Society for Women Engineers, Tufts Admissions Tour Guide and Engineering Panelist, Senior Representative and Academic Chair for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Residential Assistant for Tufts University Office of Residential Life. As a researcher, she designed a medical device to assist in the insertion of IV catheters in babies and children, was part of a team that designed an award winning audio speaker, and has researched the use of silk for breast implants for women who have had mastectomies.

Laura BurnsLaura Burns will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering. At Tufts, Burns was a Stern Family Scholar, was on the Dean’s List all semesters, a member of Tau Beta Pi (Engineering National Honor Society), President and Board Member of the Tufts University Engineering Student Council, Secretary and Board Member for Tufts University Society for Women Engineers, Captain of the Varsity Swim Team, and a volunteer at Tufts University Admissions Office. Burns was a research assistant in Assistant Professor Lauren Black’s Lab, where she worked with tissue engineering of cardiac tissue and design of an optical device to measure the thickness of delicate tissues.