2018-2019 TiMe Program Student Cohort Selected

The Cancer Center at Illinois and the Tissue Microenvironment (TiMe) Training Program are pleased to announce their 2018-2019 graduate student cohort. Selected from an impressive pool of candidates from across campus, these exceptional scholars reflect the breadth of Illinois research interests, with expertise in fields ranging from nutritional sciences and biochemistry to bioengineering and chemistry.

Supported by the National Institutes of Health and the University of Illinois, the TiMe Training Program is a graduate program that enables students to conduct interdisciplinary research focused on tissue microenvironments and their connection to healthcare issues. Understanding tissue microenvironments is critical for making advances in areas such as regenerative medicine or cancer therapies.

Along with exciting research possibilities, the TiMe Program provides intensive mentoring and training, extracurricular activities, and professional development. “The TiMe Program integrates education, mentoring, and training with professional development to produce exceptional interdisciplinary researchers in fields related to cancer and health,” said Cancer Center Director Rohit Bhargava.

This structure ensures the development of technical expertise and pragmatic skills and empowers students to become research leaders and make lifelong contributions to society. Cohort members will also benefit from co-mentored research and the possibility of translational opportunities in the coming year at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

The new cohort members are excited about the opportunities they’ll have over the next two years. "I am delighted to join the cohort," said Post-Doctoral Research Associate Emon Bashar, "since I relish interdisciplinary collaboration and the ability to contribute to the collective research effort of such a diverse group. This program also offers the opportunity to develop and thrive as a researcher under the guidance of accomplished mentors."

For more information on the TiMe Program or the new student cohort, contact Program Manager Paloma Pearson at palomap@illinois.edu or 217-300-5123.

Cohort Members

Christina Applegate

Catherine Applegate (Nutritional Sciences)

Molecular Effects of Tomatoes and Their Bioactives on the Prostate Tumor Microenvironment
PI: John W. Erdman Jr.
This project explores the molecular effects of tomatoes and their bioactive compounds on the prostate tumor microenvironment.

Sushant Bangru

Sushant Bangru (Biochemistry)

Role of ESRP2 in Hepatic Maturation, Regeneration, and Cancer
PI: Auinash Kalsotra
This study focuses on how hepatocytes in the mammalian liver sense and respond to different physiological conditions as found in the context of postnatal development or disease.

Emon Bashar

Emon Bashar (Mechanical Science and Engineering)

Biophysics of Tumor Microenvironment and Cancer Metastasis
PI: Taher Saif
This project explores the dynamic interaction between biophysical and chemical signaling within a cancer tumor microenvironment and focuses on activin secretion and lipid metabolism in concert with tissue stiffness and cellular forces.

Ian Berg

Ian Berg (Bioengineering)

3D Microtissue Arrays for Recapitulating and Investigating the Microenvironment
PI: Gregory Underhill
This research investigates the effects of the tissue microenvironment and 3D geometry on cellular behavior.

Svyatoslav Dvoretskiy

Svyatoslav (Slav) Victorovich Dvoretskiy (Kinesiology and Community Health)

Contribution of Pericyte-Derived Biomaterials to Tissue Angiogenesis
PI: Marni Boppart
This project examines the contributions of pericytes and pericyte-derived biomaterials to aberrant vascular growth in the tumor microenvironment.

Parinaz Fathi

Parinaz Fathi (Bioengineering)

Biodegradable Nanoparticles for Tissue Microenvironment Imaging and Therapy
PIs: Dipanjan Pan and Mandy B. Esch
This program explores the development of novel biodegradable nanoparticle systems and microfluidic organ-on-a-chip models to evaluate nanoparticle-tissue interactions.

Aidan Gilchrist

Aidan Gilchrist (Material Science and Engineering)

Dynamic Remodeling of a Gelatin Matrix for Tunable Cell-Cell Interactions in a Hematopoietic Stem Cell Culture
PI: Brendan Harley
This work focuses on the development of a 3D-culture platform for hematopoietic stem cell culture that optimizes paracrine signals from co-cultured mesenchymal stromal cells.

Yongdeok Kim

Yongdeok Kim (Materials Science and Engineering)

Integration of 3D Engineered Tissue into Electronics for Electrical Application
PI: Rashid Bashir
This study explores the integration of 3D-engineered tissue with electrodes such as graphene or buckling electronics for applications such as electrical sensing or stimulation to 3D-cultured muscular or neural tissue.

Hailey Knox

Hailey Knox (Chemistry)

Development of N-Oxide-Probes for Photoacoustic Imaging of Hypoxia
PI: Jefferson Chan
Hypoxia is a hallmark of solid tumors and is known to contribute to resistance and aggressive phenotypes. This project explores small-molecule probes that can detect hypoxia in deep tissue using photoacoustic imaging.

Carlos Renteria

Carlos Renteria (Bioengineering)

All-Optical Assessment and Manipulation of Dynamic Cellular Activity in Neural Tissue
PIs: Stephen Boppart and Parijat Sengupta
This study develops optical imaging technology and computational tools for the assessment and induction of neuronal activity. By utilizing these tools to assess dynamic neural activity, researchers can better understand cellular communication.

Craig Richard

Craig Richard (Bioengineering)

Towards the On-Demand Synthesis of Quantum Dots for Imaging and Spectroscopic Applications
PI: Rohit Bhargava
This research project focuses on developing methods to produce nanoparticles in a simple, reproducible, and on-demand manner for use as imaging probes and light sources for biomedical applications.

Whitney Sinclair

Whitney Sinclair (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)

Lung-on-a-Chip Enables Dynamic Imaging of Pulmonary Lung Tissue in Response to Aerosolized Nanoparticles
PIs: Paul Kenis and Deborah Leckband
This program explores the adverse effects of nanoparticles in consumer products and therapeutic agents on human health, especially on the lung.