Armour College of Engineering Undergraduate Researcher Veronica Ibarra Published in Journal of Biomedical Materials Research

Veronica_Ibarra_news.jpgArmour College of Engineering co-terminal student Veronica Ibarra (BME/CHE 5th year), author of “Evaluation of Tissue Response to Alginate Encapsulated Islets in an Omentum Pouch Model,” was published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research.

The paper outlines the work Ibarra and her colleagues conducted to provide insight into the local tissue response and possible failure mechanisms of alginate microbeads. This research may lead to the creation of biomaterials that could be used to encapsulate pancreatic islets during transplantation. The alginate materials allow the diffusion of glucose, insulin, nutrients, and waste products while inhibiting cells and antibodies involved in tissue rejection. This could eliminate the need for patients to receive long-term immunosuppressive therapy after transplantation– opening up the treatment to a wider variety of people affected by type I diabetes.

Ibarra is an active undergraduate researcher at Armour, joining the tissue-engineering lab of Eric Brey, Duchossois Leadership Professor and professor of biomedical engineering. During her first year in the lab, Ibarra started work on the project that would lead to her journal publication as part of Illinois Institute of Technology’s National Science Foundation (NSF) funded summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program.

Becoming enveloped in her work, Ibarra continued her research funded through Armour R&D over the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semesters. Armour R&D is an Armour College of Engineering Distinctive Education Program that offers participants the opportunity to gain valuable research experience working in the lab with a faculty member.

During her time in Armour R&D, Ibarra became fully immersed in the project and continued her work in Brey’s lab after completing the program. In the summer of 2015 she traveled to Taiwan to continue the project by studying the function of cells encapsulated in biomaterials following implantation in pre-clinical models at one of the top hospitals in the world for reconstructive microsurgery, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital.

The Biomedical Engineering Society awarded Ibarra one of eight Undergraduate Design and Research Award in 2014 for her work on the project. She also earned the First Runner-up in the Spring 2014 Armour R&D Expo for her research. The Society of Biomaterials named Ibarra the recipient of the 2016 Student Award for Outstanding Research for her work on the project after being nominated by her mentor, Brey.

Being a published author and an award-winning researcher is something few undergraduates can lay claim to. The astounding achievements accomplished by Ibarra will certainly give her the upper hand as she explores her opportunities after graduation.

Read the complete manuscript here.