BME student and team members placed top 5 in the IgNITE Medical Case Competition

Hyaluronic Acid Doped Liquid Metal Scaffold for Peripheral Nerve Communication Restoration and Regeneration After Neurotmesis

BME undergraduate student Keer Zhang and team members placed in the top 5 out of 187 for their proposed project, “Hyaluronic Acid Doped Liquid Metal Scaffold for Peripheral Nerve Communication Restoration and Regeneration After Peripheral Neurotmesis” in the IgNITE Medical Case Competition.

Over 570 students, making up 187 teams from over 70 institutions worldwide, competed in the first annual IgNITE 2020/21 Competition.

Zhang and team members proposed a solution for grade V nerve injury involving Liquid Metal with synthetic hydrogels. Peripheral nerve injury (PNI) affects over 20 million Americans, resulting in more than $100 billion in healthcare costs. The most severe PNI is complete transection (neurotmesis), resulting in loss of motor and sensory function. Efficient regeneration of nervous tissue is complex, and current regenerative scaffolds do not allow for immediate signal propagation. The project proposes a surgically implantable protein-fusion hyaluronic acid (PFHA) scaffold doped with known neuroregenerative and pro-vascularizing factors as well as Galinstan (GaInSn) liquid metal (LM) to restore nerve function. Ultimately, the aim is to restore nerve signal conduction, promote nerve regeneration over the course of one year, and improve the quality of life for patients with PNI.

The IgNITE Medical Case Competition is an annual, bilingual poster presentation contest founded by students from the University of Ottawa. While still very new to the conference scene, IgNITE has quickly become one of the most diverse and prestigious research competitions, hosting students from across Canada and the United States. Built on the core principle of inclusivity, the IgNITE Medical Case Competition provides students that have never stepped foot in a lab, and those who are completing their honors thesis, the opportunity to develop and present novel research proposals to industry-leading professionals.

Team members:

1. Keer Zhang, 2. Emily Pallack, 3. Abdullah Afridi, 4. Stefan Abi-Karam

  • 1)University of Florida, Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, J. Crayton Pruitt Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • 2)University of Florida, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Department of Microbiology and Cell Science
  • 3)University of Florida, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Chemistry
  • 4)Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering