​ASU Awarded  $1.2M Grant to Study Kidney Tissue Regeneration

News Date
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By Hazel Scott/ASU

Alabama State University is continuously making history. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded ASU’s Biomedical Engineering Department a $1.2 million grant to student kidney tissue regeneration.

Specifically, the department will study how to incorporate artificial intelligence in the design of 3-dimensional scaffolds for renal tissue regeneration.

“This research addresses a very critical issue in the United States.  Many of us know someone who suffers from this disease, and we need creative approaches to address it,” said Principal Investigator Dr. Derrick Dean, professor and director of Biomedical Engineering. “We also appreciate support from Dr. (Quinton) Ross, which was instrumental in helping to secure the funding.”

Joining Dean on the research are co-principal investigators Dr. Vineeth Viijayan, assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering; Dr. Rajendran Swamidurai, professor of Computer Science; Elijah Nyairo, instructor of Chemistry; and Dr. Robert Green, associate professor of Chemistry and chair of the Physical Science Department.

According to Dean, approximately 37 million people in the United States suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD). The condition can progress to end stage renal disease (ESRD), which is irreversible, and can only be treated by dialysis or kidney replacement, he noted.  

“Dialysis helps a person extend their life; however, their quality of life can be affected by various complications such as accelerated cardiac disease and infection rates.  Replacement therapy is another option; however, there is a serious shortage of donors. The importance of this project is that it will enable the design of more functional kidney tissue constructs for renal diseases,” Dean pointed out.   

The project, Dean said, also will provide interdisciplinary education and training opportunities to graduate students in the planned Ph.D. program in Integrative Engineering and Biosciences, which supports one of the objectives of the University’s strategic plan for Academic Excellence, which is to develop, strengthen and grow graduate programs.

“This will help improve the research quality of the institution and can contribute to increased diversity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce,” Dean said.

He also noted that professional development workshops and community outreach activities planned in the project could have a significant impact on improving the quality of the graduate education offered at Alabama State University.

“It also will contribute to increased scientific awareness and curiosity in the local community,” Dean remarked.

Funding for the project is being provided by the NSF Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology and HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (CREST HBCU-RISE) program, which supports the expansion of institutional research capacity as well as the successful training of doctoral students, especially those from groups underrepresented in STEM at HBCUs.