Student NameSyeda Raza
Faculty Mentor NameEdward Phelps
CollegeHerbert Wertheim College of Engineering
MajorBiomedical Engineering
Research InterestsI am interested in the autoimmune disease Type 1 diabetes and pancreatic islets.
Academic AwardsHerbert Wertheim College of Engineering Dean’s List Spring 2018, Florida Academic Scholars Award
OrganizationsGRIP, Phi Sigma Rho
Volunteer WorkDays for Girls, Humane Society, Retirement Home for Horses, and Fishing for Success
Hobbies and InterestsIce skating

Why I got involved with research

I became involved in research because I was curious about the different aspects of biomedical engineering, and I wanted to become exposed to the laboratory atmosphere. I also hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the biomedical field due to this experience.

Research Project

Fabricating a Functional Peri- Islet Membrane in Pancreatic Islets

This project encapsulates rat islets in an artificial basement membrane made of laminin, nidogen and collagen IV. Laminin, nidogen and collagen IV are chosen as the proteins to engineer the peri- islet membrane because they are important components of the native basement membrane and form a dual- network involved in cell- matrix signaling.

Peri-islet extracellular matrix reconstruction demonstrates increased cell functionality by increasing insulin production. As a result, the reproduction of the extracellular matrix could be significant for islet transplantation. However, the isolated islets have shown a lack of longevity in the formation of the continuous basement membrane. This semester, I will focus on developing solutions to increase the longevity of the engineered extracellular matrix and functionalize the artificial basement membrane. Success of this project will provide a novel biomaterial strategy to enhance islet function upon transplantation in T1D patients.