Hello! My name is Jessica Shah.

Education: Duke University, Class of 2023

Program of Study:  Major in Biomedical Engineering, Minor in Chemistry

Hometown: Las Vegas, NV

GCS Focus:  Engineer Better Medicines

GCS Advisor: Dr. Samira Musah

Tissue Engineering to Better Model Human Physiology 

Drug development traditionally relies on animal models to predict drug response. However, billions of dollars are spent on animal drug experiments annually, only for drugs effective in animals to show poor efficacy or even toxicity in humans. With cases like the arthritis drug Vioxx with unforeseen cardiovascular damage, I am driven to create better models of human biological processes to more adequately predict human drug response. I am excited about the potential of tissue engineering and synthetic biology to model human physiology and eventually create patient-specific disease models for accelerating drug discovery.  For my GCS Thesis project, I am researching in the Musah Lab to engineer a kidney glomerulus organ-on-a-chip with an integrated naturally-derived biomaterial membrane to model blood filtration and kidney disease. 

Why Grand Challenges Scholar?

While a scientific background is important, we must also consider the larger cultural, environmental, political, social, and economic implications of engineering problems. The Grand Challenges Scholar program provides a unique opportunity to engage deeply in engineering issues and learn well-rounded skill sets to think about the world and its problems through diverse perspectives. I am excited to gain a multidisciplinary understanding of engineering problems and grow with other undergraduates interested in tackling these dynamic issues. Through opportunities and support in the classroom, lab, and the broader global community, this program will equip me with the tools I need to engineer better medicine as an aspiring scientist.