BME Ph.D. candidate awarded NIH F31 NRSA Fellowship

Taylor Lansberry, Ph.D. candidate in the Stabler lab, received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (Parent F31) for her project titled “Engineering a Multi-Therapeutic, 3D-Printed Scaffold for Local Immunoprotection and Favorable Engraftment of Pancreatic Islets for Treatment of Type 1 Diabetes.”

The prestigious fellowship covers full tuition, stipend, and educational expenses. Lansberry’s mentor on the project is Dr. Cherie Stabler, professor and department chair of the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering. The overall impact of this work is to develop a bioactive macro-scale implant that promotes healthy host engraftment and vascularization while also reducing the need for anti-rejection drugs, which should significantly enhance treatment options for insulin-dependent diabetics.

Type 1 diabetes mellitus is an autoimmune disorder in which the patient’s pancreatic islets are destroyed by their immune system, leaving them unable to produce insulin to manage their blood glucose levels. Clinical islet transplantation is a potential treatment option; however, a challenge with this therapy is decreased islet viability due to mechanical stress and adverse inflammation at the transplant site. To address this, Lansberry’s goal is to develop a multi-functional biomaterial scaffold that improves the vascularization, engraftment, and immunoprotection of transplanted pancreatic islets to treat Type 1 diabetes mellitus. This scaffold device could result in dramatic improvements in quality of life and a substantial decrease in disease management complications. Broadly, results from this work will provide a better understanding of the roles that scaffold geometry and local therapeutic release play in cell-based therapies while improving experimental outcomes in islet transplantation.