WPI Students Awarded American Heart Association Fellowships

Biomedical Engineering PhD Students Granted Two-year, $44,000 Awards
April 10, 2012

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Two Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) biomedical engineering PhD students have been awarded prestigious American Heart Association fellowships to pursue their research.

For his research project, titled "In Vivo Correlation of Intimal Hyperplasia with Circumferential Strain in the Vein Graft Wall Using a Murine Model," John Favreau of Mechanicville, N.Y., is studying blood vessels in the heart and periphery of the body. Using an image-based technique, he looks at strains on the walls of veins used in cardiac bypass surgery to determine if failures in those veins can be predicted. His work is the result of a collaboration between WPI and a world-renowned vascular surgeon at Harvard Medical School/Brigham & Women's Hospital.

Chris Scully of Groton, Conn., is working on a research project titled "Spatiotemporal Organization of Renal Autoregulation." He is studying how different regions of the kidney work together to regulate blood pressure, and how the kidney protects itself from large fluctuations in blood pressure.

"I am very proud of their accomplishments," said Ki Chon, professor and head of the Biomedical Engineering Department. "The AHA pre-doctoral fellowships will be a significant boost to their promising academic careers.
"This AHA funded work is exciting. Chris's work has the potential to contribute significantly to better understanding of how renal autoregulation works under physiological and pathophysiological conditions in the kidney. Renal autoregulation is the process that protects against renal injury during periods of high blood pressure. John's work will, hopefully, lead to better clinical options for patients suffering from cardiovascular disease."

The American Heart Association awards the fellowships to help students initiate careers in cardiovascular and stroke research by providing research assistance and training. The fellowships are available only to full-time students working toward their degrees.

The awards, which each total $44,000, are for the period between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013. American Heart Association Pre-doctoral Fellowships help students begin careers in cardiovascular and stroke research by providing research assistance and training. Only about 20 percent of proposed projects are funded.