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Engineer receives $400,000 CAREER award to develop disease-fighting cells

Developing the technology to stimulate mouse stem cells to become disease sentinels of the immune system is the focus of a $400,000 National Science Foundation Early Career Development award received by Krishnendu Roy, a biomedical engineer at The University of Texas at Austin.

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Roy’s laboratory will optimize the microbead incubation steps by adjusting the ratio of cells to microbeads, how much stimulant is coated on the beads’ surfaces, and how long cells and beads need to interact to promote the developmental steps. After each incubation step, the researchers will verify cell conversion by analyzing their surface for the presence of new markers that are a hallmark of the altered cell type.

Scaling up the process to produce large numbers of early T cells and primed T cells will also be a major goal.

“This is essentially a platform technology, where you could develop the cells to fight one antigen involved in one disease, but then substitute the antigen with another antigen to tackle another disease,” Roy said.

As part of the educational outreach for the CAREER grant, two students from local high schools will be selected to participate in research in Roy’s laboratory over the summer. Graduate students of Roy will then serve as informal advisers for the high schoolers regarding future engineering and science opportunities.

For more information contact: Becky Rische, College of Engineering, 512-471-7272.