Biomedical Professor Uses Synthetic Materials to Repair Damaged Tissues and Organs

Professor Mary Beth Monroe in lab.

“Everything I do has a clinical software,” suggests Mary Beth Monroe, assistant professor of biomedical and chemical engineering.

When Syracuse College student Natalie Petryk ’21, G’22 required hands-on training in tissue engineering, she sought out Mary Beth Monroe. The illustrious professor couldn’t wait to show Petryk how synthetic resources can be employed to mend damaged human tissue and organs.

“Professor Monroe immediately found a way to include mobile do the job into a study task I was carrying out,” recalls Petryk, a recipient of bachelor’s and master’s degrees in bioengineering. “She definitely cares about our pursuits as college students and researchers and aids us obtain jobs that fulfill our tutorial and expert goals.”

Monroe was a newcomer to the Higher education of Engineering and Laptop Science when she commenced mentoring Petryk. Their connection has given that flourished, with Petryk poised to start Ph.D. scientific tests in bioengineering and Monroe regarded as 1 of the field’s mounting stars. “Professor Monroe has encouraged me in so several approaches,” she suggests. “I could not be extra grateful.”

Professor Monroe right away discovered a way to integrate cell perform into a analysis job I was performing. She genuinely cares about our passions as college students and researchers and allows us come across projects that fulfill our academic and expert goals.

—Natalie Petryk ’21, G’22

Monroe credits results to a culture of reciprocity with her college students in the Office of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering (BMCE). “Just as my faculty mentors afforded me unique possibilities when I was a university student, I want to give users of my lab, many of whom are girls, something they just can’t get everywhere else,” suggests Monroe, who types shape-memory polymers (SMPs)—materials built of chains of molecules that can return from a deformed shape to their authentic condition with the application of an external stimulus, like heat or moisture. “This fosters a perception of local community, which drives finding out and investigate.”

Minimizing Risks, Increasing Results

Monroe came to Syracuse University in 2018 right after a decade-long stint at Texas A&M College, where by she attained a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and served as a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Investigate Fellow. “Everything I do has a professional medical application,” suggests Monroe, who also was a Countrywide Institutes of Wellness (NIH) Nationwide Exploration Service Award Postdoctoral Fellow in the Texas A&M Well being Science Centre. Now, she inhabits Syracuse’s BioInspired Institute, a crucible of globe-course interdisciplinary investigate.

Professor Mary Beth Monroe speaking with Ph.D. student Henry Beaman in lab.

Monroe consults with Ph.D. college student Henry Beaman. Her lab, which combines fundamental and utilized analysis, supplies possibilities for graduate and undergraduate students alike.

It is no shock that federal agencies are lining up to help Monroe’s work—the NSF, the NIH, the U.S. Air Drive.

The private sector is also having notice. The Crohn’s & Colitis Basis is underwriting her analysis into fistula procedure. Explained as a chronic wound that strikes the urinary, reproductive and digestive systems, a fistula can lead to unpleasant bacterial infections and abscesses.

Monroe estimates that 80% of Crohn’s fistula patients require surgical treatment. “A fistula takes a lengthy time to recover,” states the indigenous Texan, who not long ago co-authored a paper on the subject matter in the Journal of Biomedical Elements Analysis. “There’s large need for nonsurgical remedy possibilities since they’re fewer unpleasant. These selections also can aid people get well quicker and slice down odds of recurrence.”

Monroe’s lab has designed an SMP hydrogel that, when inserted into a wound, responds to human body heat by expanding and filling the fistula opening. The SMP’s starch-primarily based scaffold then breaks down in the presence of colonic cell enzymes.

STEM performs ideal when there is a wide variety of views. The much more various and inclusive the workplace is, the happier—and far more productive—everyone can be.

—Professor Mary Beth Monroe

“There’s no require to get rid of something afterward,” claims Monroe, including that the SMP hydrogel also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties—preventing mobile problems and halting hazardous microorganisms in their tracks. “It decreases infection hazards and improves therapeutic outcomes.”

Professor Mary Beth Monroe working with Ph.D. student Changling Du.

Shown listed here with Ph.D. student Changling Du, Monroe is resolute in her attempts to assistance females in STEM. ­ ­

From Lab to Market

Monroe’s lab also helps make nonsurgical SMP foams for hemorrhage manage. Reports clearly show that uncontrolled bleeding is the top rated cause of preventable loss of life from trauma, each year claiming 1.5 million lives globally. Fifty percent of these fatalities come about en route to the medical center.

“SMP foams have armed service and civilian programs, especially with gunshot wounds,” states Monroe, whose units are still in the investigate and improvement stage. “The initially 5 to 10 minutes of significant bleeding are the most critical—often the change amongst lifestyle and demise.”

Monroe seeks a resolution that controls blood reduction a lot more properly than common gauze and tourniquet treatment options, which generally require to be removed inside of 12 several hours. The result? A degradable SMP foam that, like its hydrogel counterpart, is stimuli responsive. Just after remaining heated, compressed and cooled, the SMP foam is implanted in the wound, where by it reheats to body temperature and expands. “The SMP foam hits all the wound walls, applying tension and inducing clotting,” she states.

It will take Monroe two days to make a substantial batch of SMP foam in her lab. Afterward, she and her pupils slice it into modest, Cheeto- or pen-shaped samples. Their texture is like that of a kitchen sponge, with polyurethane—the foam’s magic ingredient—providing a type of biocompatible dressing to end blood decline.

If all goes to prepare, her SMP foams will be on cabinets in about five yrs.

BMCE chair Julie M. Hasenwinkel notes Monroe’s flair for innovation and entrepreneurship. “She acknowledges the interdependence of fundamental and utilized research—that an being familiar with of polymer homes can boost the utility of biomaterials,” Hasenwinkel claims. “As a result, her college students get an up-shut look at how know-how moves from lab to market place.”

A Courageous Job Design

Hasenwinkel considers Monroe a brave role design and an advocate for variety and fairness in the male-dominated area of engineering. “The difficulty is not just about ladies being underrepresented or earning a lot less funds,” says Monroe, who juggles training and investigate with raising two kids. “STEM will work ideal when there’s a huge assortment of views. The additional diverse and inclusive the place of work is, the happier—and much more productive—everyone can be.”

Professor Mary Beth Monroe working in lab.

Monroe’s lab tends to make various professional medical gadgets, like nonsurgical foams for hemorrhage command.

Monroe is resolute in her endeavours to assistance gals in STEM. A member of the very long-managing Girls in Science and Engineering (Intelligent), she also has launched Gals in BMCE, the Ladies Faculty Peer Mentoring Team and the off-campus Retirement Community Exploration Outreach Application.

Maryam Ramezani, a Ph.D. candidate in Monroe’s lab, attends the biannual Ladies in BMCE evening meal, which rotates between various professors’ households. Every single event draws 30-35 attendees who informally examine the adventures and troubles of becoming a lady in STEM. “The dinners are vital for us,” states Ramezani, who has been twice acknowledged by the Modern society for Biomaterials, whose pupil chapter Monroe advises. “We really feel supported, which probably points out why there are so a lot of girls in Professor Monroe’s lab.”

Just as my faculty mentors afforded me specific chances when I was a scholar, I want to give customers of my lab, lots of of whom are women of all ages, something they can’t get any place else. This fosters a perception of local community, which drives mastering and investigate.

—Professor Mary Beth Monroe

Ramezani remembers preparing for her doctoral qualifying assessment when Monroe encouraged her to join Wise. “It was the dawn of the pandemic, and I was pretty stressed. I didn’t think I experienced time to participate,” admits the Iranian-born bioengineer. “But Dr. Monroe reminded me that pursuing a Ph.D. is about getting expert in all respects, not just doing work in a lab. She talked me into it.”

An avid supporter of the U.N.’s Global Day of Girls and Girls in Science (Feb. 11), Monroe considers gender balance an tutorial crucial. For this motive, she regards her college students as beneficiaries as well as agents of change. “One way to close the gender gap is to be taught by somebody who looks like you,” Monroe states. “I’ve usually had great mentors, and I hope I can be that form of person to some of my female students. Teaching—and undertaking research—is about creating a big difference.”

This story was posted on .