Meet the Winners of the 2021 Bass Connections Student Research Awards

4/15/21 Pratt School of Engineering

Three biomedical engineering students will recieve support from the Bass Connections program to pursue innovative research projects

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Meet the Winners of the 2021 Bass Connections Student Research Awards

Ten graduate students and fourteen undergraduates will pursue faculty-mentored research projects this summer and next year with grant funding from Bass Connections. These projects explore a diverse range of topics, including access to modern contraception, equity in early childhood autism spectrum disorders services, the implementation of a virtual family wellness intervention for COVID-19, biomedical device design and innovation, and barriers to men’s healthy engagement on college campuses.

Bass Connections Student Research Awards provide support for students to pursue self-directed research projects under the guidance of a faculty mentor. Student projects can be either individual or collaborative in nature, and many projects continue an aspect of research begun on a Bass Connections project team. Some students will be pursuing collaborative projects that tackle interdisciplinary challenges that are not directly related to a specific project team’s research.

  • Mohanapriya Cumaran ’23 (Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience) is a member of the Gene Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease team, where she examined CRISPR-Cas9 and viral vectors and their roles in creating a gene-editing therapy for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The project, “Breaking the Delivery Barrier: Fulfilling Gene Therapy’s Promises with Split Intein Systems,” will further the team’s efforts to build a gene-editing therapy targeting the APOE gene involved in AD. Creating a successful model would sidestep the viral capacity barrier and enable the construction of more robust gene editing therapies. Boris Kantor will serve as faculty mentor.
  • Suraj Upadhya ’23 (Biomedical Engineering) is a member of the Gene Therapy for Alzheimer’s Disease team, which has been working for two years to explore gene therapies and their application in Alzheimer’s disease, including ethical questions related to affordability and access. In order to advance the understanding of the interplay between neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Upadhya plans to test the contribution of genetic risk variants of major depression and general anxiety disorders and DNA-methylation signatures to the development of depression and anxiety in AD patients. Ornit Chiba-Falek will serve as his faculty mentor.
  • Rishabh Jain ’22 (Biomedical Engineering and Chemistry) will work with other Bass Connections students to investigate healthcare disparity in the U.S. by studying the patient population that utilizes Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics. Using empirical data from patient surveys and existing public health datasets, this project will characterize the RAM patient population and assess patient experience with care. Janet Prvu Bettger, Christine Everett, Truls Ostbye and Lawrence Greenblatt will serve as the team’s faculty mentors.