Bioengineering a Better Treatment

David Walsh, PhD, Bioengineering, 2016—Every two months, North­eastern bio­engi­neering grad­uate stu­dent David Walsh’s 91-​​year-​​old grand­mother goes to the doctor to receive a drug injec­tion into her eyes. She has wet age-​​related mac­ular degen­er­a­tion. There is no cure, only this inva­sive, recur­ring treatment.

To solve this problem, Walsh is devel­oping a device that will pro­vide valu­able feed­back to patients such as his grand­mother and their clinicians.

As a member of asso­ciate pro­fessor of chem­ical engi­neering Shashi Murthy’s lab, Walsh helps design microflu­idic devices that use a single drop of blood or other bodily fluid to diag­nose a range of dis­eases. In work recently reported in the journal Lab On a Chip, Walsh and his col­leagues have cre­ated a device that mon­i­tors the effi­cacy of treat­ments for two eye dis­eases: age-​​related mac­ular degen­er­a­tion and dia­betic retinopathy.

The team col­lab­o­rated with clin­i­cians at the Duke Eye Center in Durham, North Car­olina, to obtain fluid sam­ples with which to test the device. It passed with soaring colors, dis­tin­guishing not only between patients with age-​​related mac­ular degen­er­a­tion or dia­betic retinopathy and patients with other dis­eases, but also between patients who have active and inac­tive forms of either of these two eye diseases.

Sep­a­rately, Walsh also recently earned a NSF Grad­uate Research Oppor­tu­ni­ties World­wide grant to per­form related ocular diag­nostic research at the KTH Royal Insti­tute of Tech­nology in Stock­holm, Sweden. He will begin that work in September 2014.

Related Departments:Bioengineering