ENG Students Win CIMIT Graduate Fellowships

New CIMIT Fellowship recipients Margo Monroe (BME), Grace Wu (BME) and Elif Cevik (ECE)
New CIMIT Fellowship recipients Margo Monroe (BME), Grace Wu (BME) and Elif Cevik (ECE)

The Center for Integration of Medicine and Innovative Technology (CIMIT) selected three Boston University College of Engineering doctoral students for this year’s Applied Healthcare Engineering Fellowship awards. First-time recipients are Elif Cevik (ECE), Grace Wu (BME) and Margo Monroe (BME). They join three other CIMIT Fellows, Cassandra Browning (ECE), Amira Hussein (ME) and Qingqing Cao (ME), who are continuing into their second year.

“Through these fellowships CIMIT seeks to support the innovative research of graduate engineering students,” said John Parrish, CEO of CIMIT, a consortium of Boston-area hospitals and engineering schools that supports translational research by multidisciplinary teams for medical device and clinical technology system applications. “Their work offers new approaches to solving unmet clinical needs.”

Covering students’ tuition, stipend and some ancillary expenses for up to two years, CIMIT fellowships support highly innovative yet traditionally underfunded areas of healthcare research.

Cevik, who will be advised by Professor Selim Ünlü (ECE), seeks to design and fabricate a wireless, optically activated microstimulator to be used in chronic implants for people with central nervous system diseases.

“Potential applications include stimulating neuronal growth in spinal cord injuries and enhancement of drug delivery,” Cevik said. “The versatility of these microstimulators makes them very exciting tools towards the development of novel therapies for nervous system diseases.”

Monroe, also advised by Ünlü, will focus on developing and optimizing a self-calibrating, low-cost, portable, diagnostic technology for the doctor’s office. The highly sensitive and reliable biosensing platform that she is advancing could be used to diagnose medical conditions such as allergies and rheumatologic disease.

“Not only would the hassle of shipping patient samples to outside diagnostic companies be eliminated; an on-site device would also save time and costs to both patient and doctor,” said Monroe.

Wu, who will be advised by Assistant Professor Muhammad Zaman, will develop a cell phone-based, user-friendly, CD4 [specialized white blood cell] counter for rapid HIV monitoring and AIDS diagnosis in resource-limited settings.

“This will provide quick and reliable HIV monitoring for the thousands of patients in rural sub-Saharan Africa that are highly impacted by HIV,” she said.

Now in its fourth year, the collaboration between the College of Engineering and CIMIT has been a fruitful one, noted Ünlü, who is also the College’s associate dean for Research and Graduate Programs.

“Participation in this program has been very valuable for the training of our doctoral students,” he said. “We are very pleased to see the excellence of our doctoral students continuing to be recognized by external institutions.”

The six CIMIT healthcare engineering fellowship recipients are among 45 College of Engineering graduate students supported by prestigious fellowships offered by external organizations that include the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Sixty-five ENG graduate students receive fellowships directly from BU. Nearly all College of Engineering PhD students participate in external or College-based funding programs.