HRP SU20-6: Research Opportunity with Dr. Caroline Dealy

Project Mentor

Dr. Caroline Dealy
Departments of Reconstructive Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, Orthopedic Surgery and Cell Biology

Undergraduate Research Opportunity Description

Project Description The overall goal of this project is to develop a clinically-relevant approach to improve articular cartilage repair. In animal studies, we have identified a growth factor that stimulates cartilage repair potential by tissue-resident progenitor cells present in articular cartilage. This summer project will take the first translational step towards our goal by evaluating the effects of the pro-regenerative growth factor on progenitor cells in human articular cartilage. The project will identify the optimal dose and duration of growth factor treatment that maximally stimulates progenitor cell repair potential. Techniques will include tissue culture, histology, PCR, immunohistochemistry, confocal microscopy and digital imaging.
Project Direction Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis (PT-OA) is a severe and rapidly progressing joint degeneration that follows acute traumatic injury to the articular cartilage of the knee or ankle. Osteochondral allografting is a surgical approach that attempts to delay PT-OA onset by replacing the damaged articular cartilage with healthy articular cartilage obtained from a donor tissue bank. A challenge that limits the effectiveness of this approach is lack of seamless cartilage healing at the donor-host cartilage interface. The growth factor we have identified, which stimulates cartilage healing potential, may offer a way to prime the grafts so that they integrate better when implanted in patients. Continuing studies over the year will focus on the effect of the factor on mechanical properties of the articular cartilage; studies with comparator agents, and consideration of the commercial potential and future FDA regulatory requirements needed for clinical implementation.
Mentorship and Supervision My mentorship philosophy is to foster in students a sense of pride in their contribution to the project, and a sense of “ownership” of their specific project goals. This occurs when a student puts in the effort and practice necessary to attain some degree of technical independence in their research, and has also become conversant in the scientific background and context of the project premise. We will assist you with both, but the depth of your summer experience will reflect your own initiative, motivation and engagement.
My research staff are extremely experienced and typically will provide students with day to day supervision and technical training as well as assistance with trouble shooting, interpretation and data analysis. The lab meets as a group to discuss research progress and I also meet individually with students as needed, typically at least weekly.
I encourage students to take advantage of seminars or other opportunities that may enhance or help direct their future careers. Previous undergraduate students I have mentored have gone on to PhD graduate programs, medical and dental school, etc. Three students successfully earned University Scholars honors for their research project in their senior year. I encourage students to participate in writing their research results into a manuscript, review or book chapter, and most students I have mentored eventually become authors on a published work. I encourage students to present their summer project not only at the required summer symposium, but also at other opportunities such as local meetings, or in their home department or major as these may arise.
Student Qualifications The most important qualifications are engagement, excitement, willingness the learn, excellent verbal and written communication skills, and a good work ethic. We will train you in the laboratory techniques you will need. The lab atmosphere is relaxed but everyone works hard and pitches in to help each other when needed. No particular major is preferred.
Summer Schedule Options Research Dates: May 26 to July 31, 2020
Schedule: M-F, 9am-5pm
Project Continuation Fall 2020, Spring 2021
Academic Year Time Commitment  9 hours/week
Possible Thesis Project Yes


Submit an online application for this research opportunity at The application deadline is Monday, February 3, 2020.

This application requires a resume or CV, an unofficial transcript, a brief statement of research interests, and a brief statement of career interests.