A $365,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is for the project "Self-Assembled Polymer Scaffolds for Liver Mimics." Richey Davis, a professor of chemical engineering, will collaborate with Rajagopalan on studying the mechanical properties of these scaffolds.
A second NSF award, totaling $302,861, funds "Transcriptional Signatures in 3D Liver Mimetic Architectures" research. Through a combination of experimental and computational approaches, this project will study cell-cell communications in the liver mimics. T. M. Murali, an associate professor in the department of computer science, will develop algorithms to unravel gene networks activated within cells in the liver mimics. Rajagopalan and Murali collected the preliminary data for this project through seed funding obtained in 2007 from the Institute of Critical Technology and Applied Sciences (ICTAS).
Rajagopalan and her collaborators hope that designing liver mimics and studying them at the molecular and cellular levels will bring about a much improved understanding of the organ's structure, and thereafter, to potential breakthroughs in the design of tissue engineered livers. "Information gleaned from this project will provide a sound theoretical basis for the design of the next generation of tissue-engineered livers," said Rajagopalan.
These projects also include outreach to middle school students and to ethnically diverse female high school students. Through summer camps sponsored by Virginia Tech's Center for Enhancement in Engineering Diversity, Rajagopalan and her team will introduce students to the notion of interdisciplinary research and demonstrate how collaborative advances in engineering and computer science
|Contact: Steven Mackay|