Featured Labs for PhD Recruitment

Brown University's Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program has extensive participation from research groups across Brown and the surrounding hospitals. Each year, we feature a subset of these labs that have exciting, new research projects in need of talented doctoral students. We encourage interested applicants to browse this information along with the more complete list of faculty/labs to find the best fit(s).

Fawzi Laboratory

Research areas: Structural biology, molecular simulation, neurodegeneration

The laboratory studies the structure, dynamics, and molecular interactions of protein aggregates to learn why these assemblies cause incurable neurodegenerative disease and to develop new therapeutic strategies. Using a combination of NMR spectroscopy, molecular simulation, and computer modeling supplemented by biophysical and imaging methods, we determine high-resolution structures of these species and their interactions with other macromolecules and membranes.  Current projects in the group focus on RNA binding protein function and aggregation in Alzheimer’s Disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease and frontotemporal dementia, as well as collaborative work with Brown faculty using cell and animal models of disease. More information on Dr. Nicolas Fawzi and the Fawzi Lab can be found on their respective websites.

Peti Laboratory

Research areas: Structural biology, NMR, X-ray, SAXS, Phosphatases & kinases

The research program in the Peti Laboratory is unified by a common theme: using structural biology, biochemistry and biophysics to transform our understanding of the molecular basis of cellular communication mediated by protein:protein interactions in eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. The rational is obvious: protein:protein interactions are the central biological language by which information is communicated throughout the body. When these interactions are disrupted, i.e. through genetic mutation or exposure to toxins, the result is disease and frequently death. In order to understand how distinct, tightly-regulated protein:protein complexes control processes as diverse as learning and bacterial biofilm formation, we must understand how proteins interact at an atomic level. To achieve this long-term goal, I have initiated numerous distinct projects, with the ultimate aim of developing efficient chemical interventions, e.g. drug design. During the last years we have made significant progress and thus are now optimally positioned to develop new cancer and immunosuppressant drugs. Website

Advanced Baby Imaging Lab (Deoni)

Research areas: Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Neurodevelopment, Neuroscience

Research at the baby imaging lab centers on understanding the relationship(s) that link structural brain development with cognitive and behavioral maturation, and the environmental and genetic factors that shape them.  Using a combination of advanced magnetic resonance imaging, neurocognitive assessments, and DNA screening, we are tracking infant and childhood brain development from 3 months of age through to 12 years to better understand ‘normative’ development, as well as abnormal development (such as in children with early signs of autism and ADHD).  Currently, we are one of the largest baby imaging programs world-wide.  Ongoing projects in the lab include investigations of early abnormalities associated with autism, ADHD and other behavioral disorders; neurodevelopment in infants born premature; pediatric epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; and genetic influences on neurodevelopment.  More information on the baby imaging lab can be found on the group’s website (babyimaginglab.com).

Nurmikko Lab

Research areas: Neuroengineering, Neuroscience

The Nurmikko lab focuses on developing devices and methods for interfacing with the brain in the emerging discipline of neuroengineering. Along with collaborators in engineering, neuroscience, and neurology/neurosurgery, the Nurmikko lab seeks solutions for all areas of brain science. Some projects include
a) developing a fully implantable, wireless system for recording 100-channel broadband neural signals
b) making optogenetic devices for neural stimulation and developing methods for neural prostheses

More information on the Nurmikko Lab

Wong Laboratory

Research areas: Cancer Invasion, Drug Resistance, Biomaterials, Microfluidics

Tumors are complex and heterogeneous systems that often confound existing therapeutic treatments. In particular, different cell types within a tumor microenvironment may cooperate or compete to promote malignant behaviors. The Wong Lab will develop new technologies to understand how invasion and drug resistance are coordinated in cancer. From an engineering perspective, projects will explore how materials and mechanical aspects of the tumor microenvironment affect cancer cell proliferation, invasion and plasticity. From a biological perspective, projects will seek new insights into single cell heterogeneity and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Furthermore, these projects will have a significant translational component, enabling high-throughput screening of new therapeutic compounds in “organ on a chip” microphysiological platforms. More information on Prof. Ian Wong and the Wong Lab can be found on their respective websites.

Shukla Lab for Designer Biomaterials

Research areas: Drug delivery, Regenerative medicine, Self-assembly, Biofilms, Stem cells

The Shukla Lab for Designer Biomaterials identifies and develops biomaterials solutions for critical unmet clinical needs in the areas of drug delivery and regenerative medicine. We apply concepts from polymer self-assembly, the study of molecular interactions, and cellular mechanobiology to create smart and informed biomaterials to address these biomedical challenges.  Current projects in the lab include the development of multifunctional self-assembled drug delivery coatings for medical devices and the design of patterned surfaces for controlling mammalian cell behavior.  Potential research projects in these areas for incoming graduate students will include designing anti-biofilm drug delivery coatings for medical devices that are common sources of infection and developing materials to promote mesenchymal stem cell differentiation to specific lineages or maintenance of stemness based on biomechanical cues.  See the Shukla Lab webpage for more information on our research and our researchers.