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Graduate Student Awarded Major NIH PhD Fellowship

Alexandra ArteagaAlexandra Arteaga

Alexandra Arteaga, biomedical engineering student and research assistant in Dr. Danieli Rodrigues’ Biomaterials for Osseointegration and Novel Engineering (BONE) laboratory, recently earned a major research fellowship from the National Institutes of Health.

The Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) is a pre-doctoral research fellowship designed to promote diversity, specifically among underrepresented minorities seeking doctoral degrees. The specific project is funded through the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. As principal investigator, Arteaga will receive funding through 2023 for an expected total of nearly $155,000, which will support her PhD research project at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas.

“Because of the increasing occurrence of diabetes, there is an urgent need for strategies for early and enhanced biological fixation of implants in diabetic patients, including new materials, new coatings and new surface treatments,” Rodrigues said. “Alexandra will investigate the impact of this important clinical condition on implant surface properties. Congratulations to her for receiving this prestigious award!”

Diabetic patients typically experience greater difficulties accepting orthopedic devices due to impaired wound healing. Physicians need to know more about implant surface factors that can lead to complications including surface corrosion, metal ion and particle debris and infection, among others.

Arteaga will study failed orthopedic implants to determine what steps may be taken the next time to improve the devices for diabetic patients. She will focus on surface properties particularly of metals and will use a scanning electron microscope as well as several other techniques to study the chemical composition of the surfaces. The failed orthopedic devices will include a variety of screws and pins as well as hip and knee implants provided by John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

“I am very excited about this fellowship,” Arteaga said. “I hope others at UT Dallas are encouraged to apply to opportunities like this.”

Arteaga previously earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Texas at El Paso in 2010 and a master’s degree in molecular biology from New Mexico State University in 2013. She joined the BONE laboratory in 2018 as a master’s student and will continue to earn her PhD under Dr. Rodrigues’ direction.

Original News Center article here.