I was thrilled when Amanda Pentecost first told me about the NOMAD project. The project is exciting because it brings together interdisciplinary science from Universities in the US, UK, and China to explore potential solutions for important global health challenges. One of these challenges is sepsis, a hyper inflammatory condition triggered by signal proteins called cytokines. In 2011, sepsis was the most expensive medical condition in U.S. hospitals, incurring costs upwards of $20 billion dollars. The NOMAD project investigates carbon nanomaterials to limit the concentrations of over expressed cytokines in the blood, as well as other environmental contaminants detrimental to health.
For my Master’s research I have been fortunate enough to work on the NOMAD project, and I spent July and August at the University of Brighton working with the NOMAD research team. Before arriving my aim was to become as proficient as possible in biological characterization of carbon materials. If I could understand both the biology and materials science aspects of the project, and how they relate to each other, this could lead to more efficient experimentation.
Through mentorship and training from Yishan, Ganesh, and Susi, I gained a thorough understanding of biological characterization. This included training on culturing cells, running cytotoxicity assays on materials, and using an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to study adsorption efficiency of the carbon materials. We observed that mesoporous carbons derived from polymer precursors demonstrated high adsorption capacity for sepsis’ signaling proteins. I will now take these newly learned techniques and data back to Drexel for further analysis and processing, with an aim to improve adsorption for these and other materials.
I have enjoyed being part of the research team and would like to thank everyone at the University of Brighton for being so hospitable. See you all at the final Symposium meeting at Drexel in March!