Research

Experience 1:  Musah Stem Cell and Tissue Engineering Lab 

Date: January 2020 – Present (500 Hours)

Advisors:  Dr. Samria Musah

Summary:  

During freshman year, I was introduced to tissue engineering after joining Dr. Samira Musah’s lab at Duke University. Affiliated with Biomedical Engineering and School of Medicine, our lab focuses on integrating stem cell biology with engineering to model and understand kidney development and disease mechanisms. I am working with a PhD student to develop a kidney organ-on-a-chip with an integrated biodegradable membrane to model blood filtration and kidney disease. Organ-on-a-chips are microfluidic devices containing two overlapping channels separated by a membrane. Cells are seeded in both channels to form monolayers along both sides of the membrane, creating a structurally complex microenvironment that better mimics what cells experience in vivo

Experience 2:   Duke International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM)

iGEM

Date: September 2020 – Present (200 Hours)

Advisors: Dr. Cameron Kim and Dr. Zhaohui Wang

Summary:  

Duke International Genetically Engineered Machine (iGEM) is an undergraduate-led synthetic biology research group. Clinical glioblastoma treatment is limited by the lack of a scalable, physiologically relevant model for drug testing. To address this, we are developing a brain organoid-based drug screening platform to characterize treatment efficacy in IDH1-mutated patient-derived glioma cells. A plasmid reporter system is used to quantify the concentration of D-2-HG, an oncometabolite upregulated by IDH1, as a readout for tumor growth. When a drug that reduces D-2-HG levels is added to the system, the fluorescence or luminescence levels in the glioma cells will decrease. We designed the fluorescent and luminescent reporter plasmids, synthesized the constructs using PCR and Gibson Assembly, and transfected them into HEK 293T cells. Additionally, we electroporated commercially available plasmids into primary glioma cells as a proof-of-concept for integrating our own plasmids into these cells. We are working on finalizing our reporter constructs, integrating them into our co-culture system, and testing the efficacy of therapies using our platform. We published our project as a website, were awarded the iGEM Team Impact grant, and presented at the 2021 iGEM Giant Jamboree.