Spring 2022 | Issue 5
Department of Bioengineering
A Note From the Chair
One Thousand Degrees sounds like a nightmare climate change scenario, but for the Bioengineering Department, it is a goal we are coming close to attaining! As of May 2022, the Bioengineering Department has conferred 920 degrees - 583 BS degrees; 286 MS, and 51 Ph.D. A mere 10 years ago the Department was no more than a dream inside a Committee report to the Dean of Engineering. Since then, what was a fledgling Department eight and a half years ago, has become one of the larger Departments in the College of Engineering. 

One measure of the scale of the Department is the co-op program. Since the Department began, our spectacular Co-op team has placed our students in 1343 Co-op jobs! You might wonder how a Co-op team generates opportunities for students in a new Department. Nine months before the first undergraduate started sophomore classes in Bioengineering, Karen Kelley joined the Department and worked tirelessly as an Ambassador for Bioengineering, going out to prospective employers across the Boston Metropolitan area. She found herself selling our program to employers who did not know what Bioengineering was, who did not know what a bioengineering student was being taught in classes. She came back with idea after idea of what these prospective employers thought our curriculum should include. Once we recruited Mike Jaeggli to be our first Assistant Teaching Professor, he started making the visits with her. Together they mined a font of ideas about what bioengineering students should learn. From those visits, the concept for our flagship sophomore course, Bioengineering Measurement, Experimentation and Statistics (BMES) was born, with the goal of giving every student a flavor of what they would need prior to their first co-op. Eve Young, from COE advising joined the team to fold what had been learned from the employers into the complex web of ABET and COE requirements, and the three of them together crafted much of the curriculum that has stood the test of time ever since. Every undergraduate bioengineering student benefits greatly from the work they did during the first years of the Department. In recognition of their efforts, a few years ago the team of Karen, Mike, and Eve received the Deans Award recognizing contributions to the College above and beyond the call of duty. Hugely deserved. 
This year, the Department hit another high water mark. I am told 199 Engineering freshmen have opted to major in either Bioengineering or our wildly popular joint degree in Bioengineering and Biochemistry. To serve this student population our faculty is constantly growing. This spring we have hired three new faculty, one doing research in single-cell technologies (nanopores, to be precise), one in mechanobiology (jointly with Chemistry), and one who uses focused ultrasound for the study of biological systems. Two of our current Assistant Professors have just received tenure and will be promoted to Associate Professor for the start of the new academic year. We have a new instructor joining our teaching faculty and are still looking for another. All told, as of September, the Bioengineering faculty will have expanded to 34 members, not counting quite a few adjunct faculty and affiliates from Departments across the campus.

We hope this Newsletter will give you a flavor of the many things ongoing in the Department. I certainly look forward to reading it, because with so much going on it's possible I've missed a couple important achievements! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I will. How was your year? Please let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!
Congratulations Class of 2022!
It's our favorite time of the year; graduation season! This year our graduating class included 6 Ph.D. students, 89 MS students, and 153 BS students. While we're sad to see them go, we're excited to watch what they do next. Congratulations to the NuBioE class of 2022!
Using Spark Fund Award for Active Human Collagen to Promote Rapid Healing
Collagen, a stretchy, fibrous, strand-like protein, is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is found in everything from our bones and the tendons and connective tissues in our joints, to our skin, hair, and nails. Collagen helps keep our bodies strong and plays a critical role in injury recovery. As we age, the collagen in our bodies starts to break down and we produce less and less new collagen each year, so supplemental sources of collagen are needed to heal from and prevent injuries >>
Interdisciplinary Education and Research Leads to Goldwater Scholar Nomination
When one chooses a career, it makes sense that a career should match one’s individual interests. But what if a person has multiple interests and goals, is it possible for one path to include them all?

For Giona Kleinberg, E’23, the answer is yes. He believes his combined bioengineering and biochemistry major gives him the freedom to work in multiple avenues. “I have so many interests, like engineering and biology, and my major allows me to pursue all of them,” Kleinberg says >>
Research to Help Unlock the Mystery of How Cancer Spreads
One of the things that make cancer so sinister is that it’s rarely the first tumor that gets you. In fact,  90 percent of all cancer deaths are from tumors that have metastasized and taken root in other parts of the body.

That’s why Northeastern Bioengineering professors Mark Niedre and Chiara Bellini have teamed up to learn more about how cancer metastasizes and what can be done to prevent it.

Niedre is the principal investigator on a five-year, $2.7 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to develop a wearable device that can detect tumor cells that enter the bloodstream and circulate through the body. These escaped cancer cells are known as Circulating Tumor Cells or CTCs for short. Some of them form metastases >>
DoD Discovery Award to Develop Human Vascular Malformation Model From iPSCs
BioE Associate Professor Guohao Dai received a $314K Discovery Award from the Department of Defense for “Human iPSCs derived 3D perfused model of vascular malformation”.

Vascular malformations (VMs) refer to the malformed blood vessels. They are heterogeneous groups of diseases affecting a large population. VMs are caused by genetic mutations in genes involved in blood vessel development. VMs have a major impact on the quality of life of patients; they are painful and disfiguring and may lead to bleeding, recurrent infections, thrombosis, organ dysfunction, and even death >>
2022 Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Teaching Winner
Caroline McCormick, PhD’24, bioengineering, received the 2022 Outstanding Graduate Student Award in Teaching. Winners of this award have demonstrated an exceptional ability to communicate ideas and concepts in the classroom and a talent for inspiring students >>
Measuring Viral Concentrations and Infectivity
BioE Assistant Professor Sara Rouhanifard and Affiliated Faculty Meni Wanunu were awarded a $250K PFI-TT NSF grant for “Developing an integrated platform for high accuracy measurements of viral particle count and infectious titer.”

The broader impact/commercial potential of this Partnerships for Innovation – Technology Translation (PFI-TT) project is to measure viral concentrations in clinical or research settings. Select vaccines and gene therapies are delivered via viral vectors, but the precise dosing is poorly known, leading to quality control concerns. Current measurement techniques are indirect, imprecise, and nonstandard; and they require time and specialized equipment. Accurate measurement of viral particles is critical for precise benchmarking of diagnostics and appropriate dosing of therapeutics. This project develops a new technology to measure viral concentrations and infectivity >>
This Robot Uses Tactile Sign Language To Help Deaf-Blind People Communicate Independently
 People who are deaf can communicate with their hearing friends and family through visually signed language, but for people who are both deaf and blind, language must be something they can touch. So that means that people who are both deaf and blind often need an interpreter to be present with them in-person for interactions with others who do not know American Sign Language, so they can feel what shape their hands are making.

“When I was watching the interpreter sign, I asked, ‘How do you communicate without the interpreter?’” and the answer was simply, “‘We don’t,’” Johnson recalls >>
$2M NASA Grant To Build Long-Lasting Neurovascular Model
BioE Associate Professor Guohao Dai, ChE Associate Professor Abigail Koppes, and ChE Assistant Professor Ryan Koppes received a $2M grant from NASA titled “Bioengineer Long-lasting 3D Neurovascular Microphysiological System to Model Chronic Inflammation-mediated Neurodegeneration”.

The goal of this project is to bioengineer a long-lasting 3D neurovascular model for up to 6 months. Such a model is valuable to evaluate the impact of chronic stressors on the brain, such as drugs, environmental toxins, bacterial/viral infection, inflammation in neurodegeneration, as well as microgravity and radiation in long-term space flight >>
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Northeastern University Department of Bioengineering | bioe.northeastern.edu