2019-2020 Abrams Scholars

Congratulations to Carly, Josh, and new lab member Jennifer Potts, who were both selected as Abrams scholars for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Carly will be working with Sandra on the OV project:

Assessing functional recovery following ischemic stroke: Following stroke, hip fractures occur 2-4 times more frequently than with typical aging, yet bone health is not typically monitored during rehabilitation. Stroke may alter osteovascular (within bone) circulation, which is essential for bone maintenance, and thus may contribute to the bone loss. Exercise stimulates vascular formation and improves balance and musculoskeletal strength and thus may at least partially offset the negative impacts of stroke. Conversely, bedrest during recovery may exacerbate bone loss and could have detrimental effects on vascular function. The goal of this project is to measure blood flow in the tibia following ischemic stroke in mice, and to monitor functional recovery throughout the experiment. Blood flow will be measured weekly in the tibia with a minimally invasive laser Doppler flowmetry procedure. Functional recovery will be quantified with a behavior test and with high-speed video assessment of gait kinematics.


Josh will be continuing his work with Jason:

Effects of tissue heterogeneity on vertebral bone mechanical properties: This project will involve creating (with guidance) finite element models of human vertebral bone using the cancellous bone architecture from micro-computed tomography scans. The micro-CT scans also provide an accurate, 3D representation of tissue mineral density throughout the bone volume, which can readily be converted into elastic modulus values using experimentally derived density-modulus relationships. The goal is to create high-resolution bone models with realistic heterogeneous material properties and then use the models to determine how mineral heterogeneity impacts the overall mechanical performance of vertebral bone. This information is especially important, given that the heterogeneity of bone changes with aging and with certain drug treatments and thus may be an important metric to monitor or target.


Jennifer will be working with Emily on the BPBI Project:

Bone formation and mineralization following brachial plexus birth injury: Brachial plexus birth injury (BPBI) is the most common nerve injury in children, occurring during difficult childbirth. It causes muscle paralysis, deformities in the humerus and scapula as they grow, and lifelong impairment of arm function. Little is known about the bone growth and mineralization that may contribute to the advancement and persistence of BPBI-related impairments. The project will examine changes in cortical bone growth (e.g., mid-diaphysis of the humerus) using dynamic histomorphometry. Specific tasks will include embedding bone, sectioning, and analyzing images. Results from this project will help us determine underlying changes in bone formation and mineralization with BPBI, which will inform the development of future treatments to mitigate joint deformities and maintain arm function.


About the Abrams Scholars Program:

Abrams Scholars are outstanding BME undergraduate students who are selected to receive a stipend to conduct hands-on laboratory research projects. These projects are conceived and designed by the students with the guidance of a faculty mentor. The Abrams Scholar program honors C. Frank Abrams, Jr., a BME and BAE emeritus faculty member. Dr. Abrams led the development of the first courses in Biomedical Engineering at NC State and was instrumental in the founding of NC State’s BME Department, the creation of the joint UNC-CH/NC State graduate program, and ultimately the launch of the UNC-CH/NC State Joint BME Department. He was the Joint Department’s first senior design instructor as well as the first Director of Graduate Studies.