Caroline Addington – Dean’s Dissertation Award
Caroline Addington, a fall 2015 graduate with a Ph.D. in bioengineering, has been named as winner of the Dean’s Dissertation Award.
The dissertation award recognizes exceptional work by doctoral students that encourages the highest levels of scholarship, research and writing.
Addington is originally from Greenville, S.C., and received an undergraduate degree in bioengineering from Clemson University. She is a student of bioengineering associate professor Sarah Stabenfeldt, in the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
Addington’s dissertation is “Modulating chemokine receptor expression in neural stem cell transplants to promote migration after traumatic brain injury.” The research focuses on the development of a platform to enhance efficacy of stem cell therapy after traumatic brain injury.
Addington says current stem cell transplants after a brain injury suffer low rates of retention and survival, limiting their effectiveness.
“We’ve worked to develop a novel biomaterial that enhances neural stem cell response to some of the pro-regenerative signaling locally available within the injury microenvironment,” she said. “By increasing transplant response to some of these pro-regenerative signals, we hope to overcome the pathological signaling that is largely responsible for transplant death, thus increasing their therapeutic benefit.”
For Addington, the work represents a significant progression into neural tissue engineering from her undergraduate focus of orthopedic tissue engineering.
“I have always been fascinated by the principles of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, having worked in orthopedic tissue engineering as an undergraduate,” she said. “While the orthopedic problem space was interesting, I am very interested in and excited about working on problems facing tissue engineering within the brain. There’s still so much to learn about neural tissue and it’s inspiring to be a part of a field tackling these problems.”
Addington says she originally came to ASU in part to work with Stabenfeldt, who has been an “engaged and supportive graduate mentor.” Likewise, Addington, who plans to pursue a career in academia, says her time working with and mentoring undergraduates has been particularly rewarding.
“Having mentored students for four years, I’ve been able to watch their growth into critical thinkers,” she said. “As an undergraduate student, I was very fortunate to have been mentored by an exemplary graduate student and I enjoy passing the mentoring experience forward.”
After graduation, Addington will take a six-week trip through Southeast Asia with her “globetrotting sister.” Once she returns, she will begin working as a post-doctoral researcher under Jeffrey Kleim, an associate professor in bioengineering in the Fulton Schools of Engineering. In this role, she will couple her expertise in traumatic brain injury pathophysiology with Kleim’s expertise in motor rehabilitation and neural plasticity.
By Gary Campbell