The winning projects of the inaugural Director’s Innovations awards span the breadth of IBBME’s research themes: from the creation of “multi-contact nerve cuff electrodes” for use in neuroprostheses to the development of a new biomaterial scaffold for growing heart tissue for valve replacement, to a design of a fluorescence biosensor for tracking metabolism in muscle stem cells. But it’s the collaborative aspect of the Award criteria that makes the awards – and the funded projects – unique.
The $15,000 award is applied to the first-year stipend of an IBBME direct-entry graduate student working under the co-supervision of two faculty members who have not substantially collaborated previously. IBBME’s Associate Director, Research, Professor Craig Simmons stated that the awards will make it easier to get new projects off the ground, even as they “formalize collaborations and provide a year to generate preliminary data that can be used in a grant application to an external agency,” he added.
Ryan Koh will work on a project supervised by Jose Zariffa and Adrian Nachman, while Shouka Parvin Nejad will work with Craig Simmons and Christopher Calderone. A third student, to be supervised by Jon Rocheleau and Penney Gilbert, will also receive the award.
“The interdisciplinary nature of biomedical engineering requires collaboration,” said Simmons. “Collaborations that span research areas often have the most impact, as the application of tools, knowledge, and perspectives that are new to a field can lead to insights and advances that would not be possible otherwise,” he continued.
“I am pleased to see the strong uptake of the Innovation Award program by our faculty. I will continue to build and support this program that is designed to help kickstart new collaborations and research initiatives. It will help our faculty recruit top graduate students to our program,” said IBBME Director, Professor Christopher Yip.