Graduate Student Wins NIH Fellowship

Oct. 28, 2019 - Graduate student Raji Nagalla has been awarded a National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship from the NIH. Nagalla is a fourth-year doctoral student in biomedical engineering and a sixth-year student in the dual degree UCI Medical scientist training program (MSTP). The fellowship will fund her graduate work and her remaining two years of medical school.

Nagalla conducts research focused on understanding and manipulating the immune response to biophysical cues during the healing of skin wounds. Acute and chronic wounds affect over 6 million patients in the U.S. each year, and therapies are largely supportive.

“I have shown that soft engineered hydrogels promote immune cells to have healing characteristics and produce smaller scars, compared to stiff dressings,” said Nagalla, who is advised by biomedical engineering Associate Professor Wendy Liu and co-sponsored by Associate Professor Maksim Plikus in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology. Nagalla hopes to integrate her training in engineering and immunology to “improve our understanding of wound healing and drive rational design of novel wound therapies, which can improve care for future patients.” 

The purpose of the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein-NRSA predoctoral fellowship (F30) is to enhance the integrated research and clinical training of promising doctoral students, who are in a dual-doctoral degree training program and who intend careers as physician/clinician-scientists.

– Lori Brandt

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