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Injectable Polymeric Cryogels for Localized Anti-Cancer Immunotherpay

Primary Investigators:
Todd Giorgio
 
Brief Description of Project:
Our lab is currently developing an alginate-based hydrogel scaffold that, when formed at -20C, creates a macroporous “cryogel” tough enough to be injected through a syringe. This scaffold can be loaded with cell-signaling molecules that are released slowly over time to allow for localized release of immunotherapeutics. We have successfully established the loading and injectability of the cryogel, and we are currently evaluating the effects of culturing these gels with macrophages, the most common immune cell found in breast cancer. To further this research, we are seeking researchers to contribute by working with cultured primary macrophages from mice to evaluate their response to cryogel treatment. We will eventually be working to culture tumor samples with the gels to examine the changes in tumor viability after treating with our novel immunotherapy.

Desired Qualifications:
Highly motivated students interested in research that involves aspects of polymer chemistry, biology, and immunology. A background in chemistry and biomaterials is highly recommended. Previous knowledge/experience with cell culture is also desired, but not required.
 
Nature of Supervision:
The undergraduate researcher will have the opportunity to meet at least once per week with the PI to discuss progress and next steps. Hands-on lab training and support will be provided by a graduate student who will serve as the mentor and primary point of contact.
 
A Brief Research Plan (period is for 10 weeks):
Students will initially be involved in the fabrication of the cryogels and performing physical characterization of the formed gels. This step will involve use of SEM and a confocal microscope. In vitro tests will be performed on primary macrophages obtained from mice to evaluate changes in macrophage phenotype. There is a high chance that by the end of the 10 weeks, the project will advance to preliminary in vivo studies where mice with tumors will be treated with gels and then evaluated for changes in tumor progression.
 
Number of Open Slots: 1
 
Contact Information:
Name: Todd Giorgio
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Email: todd.d.giorgio@vanderbilt.edu