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Engineering Undergraduate’s Paper on Alginate Microbeads Published in Journal

Armour College of Engineering student Veronica Ibarra (BME/CHE 5th year), author of “Evaluation of Tissue Response to Alginate Encapsulated Islets in an Omentum Pouch Model,” was published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.

The paper outlines the work Ibarra and her colleagues conducted to provide insight into the local tissue response and possible failure mechanisms of alginate microbeads. This research may lead to the creation of biomaterials that could be used to encapsulate pancreatic islets during transplantation. The alginate materials allow the diffusion of glucose, insulin, nutrients, and waste products while inhibiting cells and antibodies involved in tissue rejection. This could eliminate the need for patients to receive long-term immunosuppressive therapy after transplantation—opening up the treatment to a wider variety of people affected by Type 1 diabetes.

Ibarra is a member of the tissue-engineering lab of Eric Brey, Duchossois Leadership Professor and professor of biomedical engineering. During her first year in the lab, Ibarra started work on the project that would lead to her journal publication as part of Illinois Tech’s National Science Foundation (NSF) funded summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Ibarra continued her research during the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters as part of Armour R&D, a program that offers students the opportunity to gain valuable research experience working in the lab with a faculty member.

During her time in Armour R&D, Ibarra became fully immersed in the project, and she continued her work in Brey’s lab after completing the program. In summer 2015 she traveled to Taiwan to continue the project, studying the function of cells encapsulated in biomaterials following implantation in pre-clinical models at one of the top hospitals in the world for reconstructive microsurgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

Ibarra has earned several awards for her work on this project, including an Undergraduate Design and Research Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society, first runner-up in the Spring 2014 Armour R&D Expo, and the 2016 Student Award for Outstanding Research from the Society of Biomaterials.