Gerecht’s Stem Cell Research Nets Outstanding Young Engineer Award

Picture of Sharon Gerecht
Sharon Gerecht. Credit: INBT / JHU

Assistant Professor Sharon Gerecht, an affiliated faculty member of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, recently earned the Maryland Academy of Science’s 2008 Outstanding Young Engineering (OYE) award. The OYE award recognizes the extraordinary scientific contributions of Maryland residents under the age of 35.

Gerecht studies how changes in micro- and nano-scale environment can affect the growth and function of stem cells with focus on vascular development and regeneration. Gerecht is looking at ways to direct stem cell differentiation by engineering different chemical, mechanical and physical environments upon which the cells grow. This may have implications on how stem cells could be used in medical therapy.

“I believe that we are now in a unique position in which we know more about stem cells, their isolation, characterization, and have a basic understanding of their biology,“ says Gerecht. “This enables us to integrate advanced microengineering tools to better control their behavior both in the lab and in the body after transplantation“

As part of her award, Gerecht received a $2,500 cash prize and the Allan C. Davis Medal, named for the former Science Center board chairman whose gift helped fund construction of the Davis Planetarium. The Maryland Science Center, located at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, is visited by more than 500,000 people each year.

Gerecht is the third INBT affiliated faculty member to be honored with an award from the Maryland Science Center. In 2007 David Gracias, also an assistant professor in the in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, received the OYE award. And in 2006, Anirban Maitra, associate professor of oncology and pathology at the Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, was awarded the center’s Outstanding Young Scientist Award.

More about Gerecht’s research: http://www.jhu.edu/chembe/gerecht/

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