BME Ph.D. candidate awarded NIH F31 NRSA Fellowship

Magdalena Samojlik, 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 for her project titled, Engineering a dynamic three-dimensional in vitro platform for the investigation of human Type 1 Diabetes immunopathogenesis.

The prestigious fellowship covers full tuition, stipend, and educational expenses. Magdalena’s mentor on the project is professor Dr. Cherie Stabler. The overall impact of this study is to develop a 3D biomimetic islet-immune platform that will enable real-time assessment of the dynamic 3D interactions between islets and T cells, as well as their subsequent impacts on islet viability and functionality, within a controllable microenvironment.

Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease caused by aberrant T-cell mediated targeted destruction of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, resulting in loss of blood glucose regulation with increased risks of vascular and neuropathic comorbidities. Despite the fact that T1D is one of the most studied organ-specific autoimmune diseases, the various strategies aimed at intervention, prevention, or reversal of this disease have failed to match animal model predictions of success. Immunopathogenesis of T1D is complex and multifaceted, and while numerous studies have provided insight into the interactions between pancreatic islets and immune cells in T1D, the definitive pathway(s) of disease initiation and beta cell destruction remain elusive. Magdalena will seek to develop an improved benchtop platform for studying the islet-immune interface in a 3D manner. This approach should lead to a greater understanding of specific roles of immune cells and stimuli in T1D pathogenesis, as well as screening of potential therapeutic interventions.