The Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award from the March of Dimes was recently awarded to tissue engineering and stem cell expert Leo Q. Wan, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The two-year grant, amounting to $150,000 will be used in Wan’s continuous research in the field of biomedical engineering research, specifically tissue development and regeneration. He is currently working on the biomolecular processes of organisms which develop asymmetry. He believes that asymmetry has a particular role in the development of congenital disorders and genetic defects.
Wan explains that left-right asymmetry is an important aspect of life and it can be seen several living organisms such as climbing plants and snail shells. With this in mind, he is looking to use high-throughput screening technology to be able to capture and document images of asymmetry in the different types of cells. If he would be successful in this endeavor, several environmental factors which may be associated with birth defects can be identified.
Wan is a young but a very well recognized name in the biomedical engineering research field. He was awarded the American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant, the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Conference Rising Star award from the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the Young Investigator Award from the Frontiers in Bioengineering Workshop in 2012.
In 2013, Wan was named as a Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by The Pew Charitable Trusts. He was awarded a 4-year grant of $240,000 to freely pursue his researches in his preferred field. Also in the same year, a 5-year grant of $400,000 was awarded to this renowned man in biomedical engineering as part of a Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The said grant is given to young scientists who are at the start of their career. The CAREER award is highly competitive and it gives priorities to novel researches of high-quality.
The research led by Wan is being conducted in Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies at Rensselaer, a world-class research facility.