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FAMU-FSU chemical engineering professor receives NSF CAREER Award

Yan Li
Dr. Yan Li, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, FAMU-FSU College of Engineering.

Dr. Yan Li, an assistant professor in the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, has received a coveted NSF CAREER award, "CAREER: Engineering Brain-region-specific Organoids Derived from Human Stem Cells".

The five-year NSF grant provides a total of $501,345 towards Li's proposed work in the tissue engineering and stem cells field and seeks to generate mini-brains (also called brain organoids) derived from human stem cells with defined structure and function that would mimic human brains.

According to Li, "The brain organoids will provide an experimental platform that will enable discovery of novel interventions and pharmacological treatments for people with neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and more recently microcephaly in infants."

The novelty of the proposed research is that additional cell types are incorporated with induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neural spheroids and the extracellular matrices containing signaling molecules such as in Wnt pathway are provided to mimic spatial regulations that occur in human brain.