REU: Biomedical Engineering

Design and innovate with novel biomedical device technologies!
Pending funding renewal

For information contact

Dr. Greg Bashford
Professor, Biological Systems Engineering
402-472-1745
gbashford2@unl.edu

2016 Biomedical Engineering REU Scholars with Directors Dr. Bashford and Dr. Nelson.
2016 Biomedical Engineering REU Scholars with Directors Dr. Bashford and Dr. Nelson.

Application Dates

Nov 15 2016 App opens
February 1 Priority deadline
March 1 App closes
April 1 Decisions complete

Program Dates

June 4 2017 Arrival day
June 5 Program begins
August 9 Program ends
August 10 Departure day

Who should apply


Related fields

  • Physics
  • Biological Sciences
  • Any Engineering
  • Any science major with interest in medical applications

This program encourages applications from students with junior or senior standing.

Eligibility

Participation in the Nebraska Summer Research Program is limited to students who meet the following criteria:
  • U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
  • Current undergraduate with at least one semester of coursework remaining before obtaining a bachelor's degree

See Eligibility for more information.

How to apply

Follow the application steps to submit the following materials.

About the Program

The goal of every medical practitioner is to improve quality of life for patients. Biomedical engineering and devices are instrumental in achieving this. The primary focus in each summer research project is biomedical devices designed to enhance medical care through science and engineering, with emphasis in two areas: (1) devices for diagnostics and sensing and (2) devices for therapeutics and intervention.

All projects are designed to be completed during the 10 week program and are a part of a faculty mentor's current research. This allows the student to be involved in many aspects of research, including design, analysis, simulation, and implementation of a biomedical device.

Students are also extensively involved in lab activities, such as weekly lab meetings. Research results are presented during lab meetings throughout the summer and at the end-of-summer in the Summer Research Symposium poster session. Lab members, especially graduate students and postdoctoral associates, are active with summer program research.

All projects are designed to be completed during the 10 week program and are a part of a faculty mentor's current research. This allows the student to be involved in many aspects of research, including design, analysis, simulation, and implementation of a biomedical device.

Students are also extensively involved in lab activities, such as weekly lab meetings. Research results are presented during lab meetings throughout the summer and at the end-of-summer in the Summer Research Symposium poster session. Lab members, especially graduate students and postdoctoral associates, are active with summer program research.

Benefits

  • Competitive stipend: $5,000
  • Suite-style room and meal plan
  • Travel expenses to and from Lincoln
  • Campus parking and/or bus pass
  • Full access to the Campus Recreation Center and campus library system
  • Wireless internet access

Learn more about academic and financial benefits.

Events

  • Department seminars and presentations
  • Professional development workshops (e.g., applying to graduate school, taking the GRE)
  • Welcome picnic
  • Day trip to Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
  • Canoe and camping trip
  • Research symposium

Mentors and Projects

Dr. Greg Bashford Biological Systems Engineering

Measuring Transient Cerebral Blood Flow Changes from Sensory Stimuli Using Transcranial Doppler

Ultrasound is a safe, noninvasive method of measuring blood flow in the body, and transcranial Doppler (TCD) is a special ultrasound mode that measures blood flow in cerebral arteries deep in the brain. TCD may be used as an inexpensive, portable method to measure brain response since neural activity is correlated with blood flow in the cerebrum. For example, a visual stimulus (such as a strobe light) can evoke a change in blood flow to the visual cortex. This can be seen by a relative decrease in the flow within the middle cerebral artery compared to the posterior cerebral artery. For clinical reporting, blood flow measurements are typically reduced to a pulsatile or resistive index. However, this index is typically based on long-term (i.e., tens of seconds) averages of data, and averaging removes the valuable real-time aspect of ultrasound. This project will assess the use of a new data index based on systems theory (relaxation time). 

Dr. Linxia Gu Mechanical & Materials Engineering

Design of a Percutaneous Aortic Valve

An estimated 20,000 people die annually from valve-related diseases, including those too sick for traditional open-heart surgery. Use of the stented heart valve, which can be implanted through thin tubes known as catheters rather than through invasive open-heart surgery, would enable more patients to receive a life-saving, minimally invasive valve replacement. Benchtop testing of various catheter-based interventional vascular devices have been conducted in Dr. Gu’s Vascular Mechanics Laboratory, and some of the major challenges associated with the new valve prosthesis include resecting the native aortic valve and positioning the new prosthesis. The project goal is to develop a new design of a percutaneous prosthesis by changing its leaflet geometry, which is hypothesized to affect performance of the prosthetic valve.

Dr. Nicole Ivereson Biological Systems Engineering

Correlating Carbon Nanotube Sensor Signals to Nitric Oxide Levels to Determine the Importance of Reactive Nitrogen Species in Inflammatory Disease Progression

Reactive nitrogen species have been shown to be important factors in the progression of many diseases, but until recently researchers have had limited ability to study nitric oxide (NO) within cells in real time. By wrapping carbon nanotubes with a specific DNA strand, a sensor for NO that can be used both in vitro and in vivo is created. This project will utilize real-time sensor capabilities of carbon nanotubes to examine disease progression and create better understanding of the importance of reactive species during development of an inflammatory disease, specifically melanoma.

Dr. Srivatsan Kidambi Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Developing Biomimetic Tissue Engineering Models of Cancer

This project will develop biomimetic tissue-engineered models of cancer by combining information from the study of tissue structure and function with STEM skills to generate reproducible tissue in vitro that mimics three-dimensional (3D) in vivo tissue. Breast cancer – the second leading cause of cancer related death for U.S. women – will be the model system. Recently, the breast tumor microenvironment has been implicated in playing a major role in facilitating tumor growth, progression, and metastasis. The microenvironment is highly organized and complex, consisting of multiple cell types that include fibroblasts, mesenchymal stem cells, epithelial cells, blood vessels, and extracellular matrix proteins. While the precise mechanisms of interaction are not fully understood, research has shown that cell signaling between the cancer cells and surrounding stromal cells alters the stromal phenotype, which in turn promotes tumor progression and metastasis.

Dr. Jung Yul Lim Mechanical & Materials Engineering

Molecular Mechanosensors of Flow-induced Stem Cell Migration

Migrating mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) contribute to homeostasis and modulate the repair of damaged tissues in vivo. MSC migration-dependent regenerative medicine strategies such as cell therapies have, however, suffered from low efficiency in cell homing to the target tissue. While conventional soluble factor-driven static chemotaxis experiments have revealed some aspects of MSC migration and homing, there is a huge knowledge barrier with regard to how mechanical environments such as fluid flow-induced shear stress affect MSC migration. Considering MSCs in vivo are exposed during migration to fluid flows in the blood vessel and interstitial space, this study investigates how physiologically relevant fluid shear conditions will affect MSC migration behavior.

Dr. Carl Nelson Mechanical & Materials Engineering

Robotic Technology for Next-Generation Minimally Invasive Surgery

Robotic tools are becoming a standard fixture in medicine, and particularly in surgery, where they can help enhance dexterity and visualization in minimally invasive approaches. Inserted, in-vivo robots (like miniature surgeon arms inside the abdomen) can have particularly high functionality. However, the small electric motors that typically drive these surgical robots are problematic: they take up too much space for too little force and speed capability, and electrical connections multiply the possible failure modes and reduce reliability. Dr. Nelson’s lab is developing tiny disposable, biocompatible fluidic actuators to increase functionality and reliability of these surgical robots while dramatically lowering cost. The specific research purpose of this project is to investigate the efficacy of different materials and actuator geometries to maximize robot functionality and reliability.

Dr. Angela Pannier Biological Systems Engineering

Development of Zein Coatings for Substrate-Mediated Gene Delivery

Gene delivery has the potential to advance many fields, including tissue engineering and implantable biomedical devices. Free DNA cannot simply be injected into the body, as it is rapidly degraded. Gene delivery can be accomplished using two techniques: viral and nonviral. Although viral methods are the most efficient vehicle, nonviral methods have gained much attention due to their simplicity, flexibility, and lower immunogenicity. Substrate-mediated gene delivery (SMD), a method of nonviral gene delivery that immobilizes genetic material on a substrate leading to a localized and highly concentrated region of DNA, shows great promise for increasing transfection efficiency and even distribution of complexes. Few substrates and coatings have been shown to be compatible with SMD, and those substrates that do support SMD are not well suited for in vivo applications.

Dr. Sangjin Ryu Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Mechano-chemical Stimulation of Chondrocytes Using Microfluidics

The biomechanical properties of cartilage are governed by the mechano-biological behaviors of its chondrocytes, as these cells generate the extracellular matrix (ECM) of cartilage in response to the mechano-chemical environment of the cartilage. However, it is unknown how mechanical forces direct chondrocyte behavior in coordination with biochemical stimuli. Focusing on the column-forming process of the chondrocytes, this project aims to better understand how combined mechanical and biochemical stimuli affect rotation of daughter chondrocytes after cell division, which will advance cartilage tissue engineering. This goal will be achieved by simultaneously applying controlled growth factor and compressive force to chondrocytes embedded in hydrogel matrix of tunable stiffness using a microfluidics platform.

Dr. Benjamin Terry Mechanical and Materials Engineering

Extrapulmonary Oxygenation via Intraperitoneal Infusion of Oxygen Microbubbles

Mild to severe Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) resulting from sepsis or injury causes hypoxemia and is life-threatening. ARDS affects nearly 190,000 patients in the U.S. each year, with a mortality rate reaching 35-40 percent. Tertiary care centers can employ extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to provide support to ARDS patients, but in the out-of-hospital environment there are few options for extra-pulmonary support. Furthermore, ECMO’s inherent risk profile makes it unviable for many traumatically injured. Dr. Terry’s lab is developing a point-of-care system using oxygen microbubbles (OMB) circulated through the peritoneal space for extra-pulmonary oxygenation to provide a simple method of oxygen delivery to tissues throughout the continuum of care that would be a game-changer for patients. This work must be further validated on animal models.