Undergraduate Student in Bencherif Lab Wins Honors Early Research Award
Joyce Shen, S’23, a third-year biochemistry undergraduate student in the Bencherif Lab, was recently awarded an Honors Early Research Award for her work on the project “Engineering Polyester-coated Nanoparticles for Extended Oxygen Release.” In support of undergraduate research and creative endeavors, Northeastern’s University Honors Program grants this award to students working with faculty mentors on compelling projects. This project is being pursued in the LAMP Biomaterials Laboratory of ChE Assistant Professor Sidi A. Bencherif.
The Bencherif Lab focuses on the fundamental understanding and development of polymeric materials for biomedical applications, such as tissue engineering, drug delivery, and cancer immunotherapy. Joyce’s research investigates oxygen-generating nanoparticles engineered to extend the release of oxygen from cryogels, hydrogels made by cryopolymerization. While oxygen-releasing cryogels have been developed previously, they are known to release a large, initial burst of oxygen. This subsequently causes insufficient oxygen supply for extended periods of time. To address this limitation, calcium peroxide nanoparticles (NPs) will be coated with polyesters and loaded into cryogel scaffolds. Coating the NPs with polyesters will slow the release of oxygen in aqueous solutions, such as cell culture media and body fluids. These multifunctional NPs will enhance current biomaterials to combat hypoxia, or lack of oxygen, in tissue engineering and immunotherapy applications.
Shen is expected to graduate in 2023 and aspires to attend medical school post-graduation. She looks forward to working and learning in the Bencherif Lab while contributing to the development of novel biomaterials for clinical application. She hopes this project—in conjunction with mentorship from accomplished researchers in the lab—will allow her to explore pursuing a dual MD-PhD and a career as a physician-scientist.