"I am very grateful to be a USP Scholar and have the opportunity to continue my research project in Dr. Simpson’s laboratory. Our ultimate goal is to develop and optimize a treatment for type 1 diabetes, a bioartificial pancreas. Thanks to the USP, I will be able to work specifically on optimizing the device and conduct in vivo experiments on diabetic mice. In addition, I would like to publish a paper so that the scientific community is aware of our methods and results."
Food Science and Human Nutrition
Family, Youth, and Community Sciences
Diabetes, Tissue Engineering, Endocrinology, and Medicine
Academic and Other Awards
- University Scholars Program Scholarship (2011-2012)
- Harvard Medical School Summer Undergraduate Research Program (2011)
- National Science Foundation (NSF) Winning Poster in Undergraduate Research (2010)
- Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Science For Life (2009)
- HHMI Poster Presentation, 2nd Place (2010)
- Habitat for Humanity
- Gator Salsa Club
- Heal the World
- Golden Sneaker Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
Interface Youth Program, a temporary shelter for children ages five to seventeen that are ungovernable, truant, or runaway. Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit organization that provides safe and affordable homes to low-income families.
Hobbies and Interests
- Dancing, playing piano, figure skating, flag football, going on adventures with friends and family, and the beach.
Development of a Bioartificial Pancreatic Construct
By the year 2030, over 438 million people globally will be affected by diabetes. Currently, tens of millions with diabetes have type 1, or insulin dependent, diabetes mellitus. The incidence of type 1 diabetes in children is increasing rapidly, and expected to double by 2020. The current treatment for this group is daily insulin injections, though the treatment is insufficient long-term, and patients still may suffer from consequences such as blindness, limb loss, and cardiovascular disease. Treatments replacing β-cells, through pancreatic or islet transplantation, show promise toward curing diabetes. However, the shortage of donor tissue along with the continuous administration of immunosuppressive medication necessary for this approach limit broad use. In response, we are constructing a bioartificial pancreas with the ability to sense glucose and secrete insulin accordingly, more similar to an actual pancreas than regulation through daily injections. We have recently achieved normoglycemia in diabetic animals through the intraperitoneal implantation of bioartificial pancreatic constructs. These constructs are comprised of insulin secreting mouse cells entrapped in bioinert materials. When implanted, cells in the constructs sense the recipient’s glucose levels and secrete insulin appropriately. In vivo studies were done on alloxan-induced diabetic mice, receiving implants containing βTC-tet insulinoma cells. One day after implant, fasting blood sugars dropped significantly and returned toward normal levels. These preliminary studies indicate that our immune-acceptable implantable construct can regulate the blood glucose levels of diabetic mice for extended periods critical for diabetes research studies. The promise for clinical applications is enticing. Work focuses on improving construct efficacy, studying β-cell regeneration, and observing effects of extended hyperglycemia (in those deemed ‘failures’) on target organs (eye, heart, kidney). Other goals include comparative analysis of mouse blood serum to measure antibody levels that may suggest why some experiments do not reach normoglycemia.