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IGERT Trainee Research Highlight


The Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Nanomedicine Science and Technology Program at Northeastern University has in its team world-class scientists in the field of Nanomedicine. The IGERT fellows have the privilege of being able to do their research under the tutelage of such eminent scientists. The research environment is structured to provide an atmosphere to carry out interdisciplinary research and utilizes nanotechnology to address key biomedical challenges. The results of the research carried out by the IGERT fellows are presented at several national and international conferences and consequently published in several peer-reviewed journals.

Address Goals

The Primary and Secondary NSF strategic goals are addressed below through the research accomplishment of the two IGERT trainees. A Northeastern University (NEU) team consisting of IGERT Nanomedicine trainees Matthew Dubach and Kate Balaconis are among the finalists in the national competition to develop engineering research projects to improve primary health care. This competition is sponsored by the Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT), a consortium of teaching hospitals, research laboratories and engineering schools in the Boston area, including Northeastern.

The finalist in this CIMIT Student Prize for Primary Healthcare was awarded $10,000 to help further develop their research concepts. The bioengineering doctoral students, Dubach and Balaconis, have proposed developing biocompatible, biodegradable sensors that would regularly monitor sodium levels in the blood. Fluorescent nanoparticles injected into the skin would enable patients to track their sodium levels in a minimally invasive manner, compared to the current method of pricking the skin to draw blood. Low concentration of sodium in blood can lead to falling especially in the elderly and this can be attributed to hypernatremia, an electrolyte disorder. Through this project a novel sensor will be developed to detect changes in the sodium levels. This project is carried out under the advisement of Prof. Heather Clark, Associate Professor in Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at NEU.