Bridging the Gap Between Engineering and Immunology

Hi everyone! My name is Reetwan Bandyopadhyay, and I am a junior at the University of Pittsburgh. I’m majoring in Bioengineering and pursuing a minor in Chemistry and a certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. I was born right here in Pittsburgh, PA and have called it home my entire life. My love for the city, combined with my academic synergy with the University of Pittsburgh, led me to stay here for four more years to continue my education.

This semester, my research project will be to investigate the role of regulatory T-cells (Tregs) in the activation of fibroblasts. More specifically, I will be developing an in-vitro assay that will test collagen deposition and subsequent collagen cross-linking when fibroblasts are cultured in the presence of Tregs. Additionally, I will be using Western blot analysis to measure the levels of SMAD3 and JunD, two proteins whose levels are positively correlated with fibroblast activation. This research will be conducted in the lab of Dr. Steven Little in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, and I will be under the mentorship of Matthew Borrelli, a 3rd-year PhD student in the Little Lab.

I decided on this project for several reasons. First and foremost, I’m fascinated by the elegance with which engineering and biology can interface to facilitate the development of new technologies, therapeutics, and treatments. It is this fascination that led me to study bioengineering in college, and drove me to conduct research with the Little Lab. For my project, I wanted to study a problem whose solution would have a wide-ranging impact. To that end, the activation of fibroblasts and the associated collagen deposition has been linked to a number of serious illnesses, including chronic heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, hepatic fibrosis, and Type 2 Graft vs. Host Disease (GVHD). Through studying the interactions between fibroblasts and Tregs, I hope to further elucidate the roles played by both in fibrotic disease and wound healing and translate my findings towards understanding diseases characterized by pro-fibrotic, pro-inflammatory immune responses.

Currently, I plan to attend medical school following my undergraduate studies. I also want to continue contributing to pioneering bioengineering research, either through a degree program in conjunction with my medical studies or as a rotational member of a lab. The CURF will help me grow and achieve these goals by immersing me in a community of brilliant and talented students with diverse passions. I’ve drawn considerable amounts of inspiration and character from the people I’ve been around over the years, and through those experiences learned the importance of surrounding myself with individuals I can model my habits and mindset from. I’m excited to be a member of a community that will teach, challenge, and inspire me, and I’m looking forward to growing together over the upcoming months!

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