Exploring and Discovering a Passion for Biochemistry
Liyutha Al Ismaili, BS Chemical Engineering 2020, is a third-year Chemical Engineering undergraduate student. She has recently received the Undergraduate Early Research and Creative Endeavors Award for her research project entitled: “Developing a strategy to cryopreserve cellularized cryogel-based scaffolds for biomedical applications”. The Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships grants this award to support compelling undergraduate projects executed under the mentorship of department faculty. This project is being completed in the laboratory of Professor Sidi A. Bencherif.
Liyutha has strong interests in biomaterials and tissue engineering. Her research focuses on improving cryopreservation of cell-laden polymeric constructs. Although several methods exist to cryopreserve cells using liquid nitrogen, a number of limitations exist including cell toxicity and poor cell survival post-thawing.
Cryogels, hydrogels made by cryopolymerization, have gained tremendous interests during the last few years for various biomedical applications. Their 3D macroporous structure with highly interconnected pores make them suitable for tissue engineering applications due to improved cell attachment, proliferation, and trafficking. Moreover, these pre-formed scaffolds are syringe injectable enabling minimally invasive delivery. Her project aims to optimize cryogels to allow cryopreservation of mammalian cells while overcoming current limitations of hydrogels. These new types of cryogels will not only provide a mechanical support for cells in 3D, but also a suitable microenvironment for improved post-thaw recovery and viability of cells. Success in her project will enable us to prepare cryopreserved off-the-shelf tissue engineered constructs to be immediately available upon request for patients’ needs.
Liyutha plans to graduate from Northeastern University in 2020 with a BS degree in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Biochemical Engineering. Liyutha explains that working in professor Bencherif’s LAMP Biomaterials lab has enabled her to explore and discover her passion in biochemistry. She is so excited to see where her project takes her in life, whether to pursue a career in Chemical Engineering or to conduct space-related research, as she aspires to become an astronaut one day.