Skip to main content
Local News

Microgels, Middle School, and the UW Grad Student Who Makes Science Matter

By January 9, 2019No Comments

Mary O’Kelly Boit is a graduate student in Chemical Engineering at the University of Washington, where she is living out a childhood dream of using biomaterials to solve real medical problems. Yes, really.

“As a kid, it started with a scientist who showed me a whole new world,” says Mary. “I loved the idea that if you can imagine it, then you can test it and learn from it. It’s an exploration that can last a lifetime.”

Today, she is pursuing her passion for biomaterials in two labs, the DeForest Lab in Chemical Engineering and the Murry Lab in the UW Medicine Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM).

“The DeForest lab innovates customizable biomaterials to address a variety of health-related problems,” Mary explains. “And the Murry lab is developing solutions to regenerate the human heart using stem cells. My research project falls at the intersection of both groups, exploiting novel biomaterials that enhance stem cell integration and restore cardiac function to patients after a heart attack.

Mary has even patented a tool she developed for her research, the zwitterionic injectable pellet (ZIP) microgels, used for encapsulation of  stem-cell derived heart muscle cell, an important step in the lab’s effort to regenerate heart tissue after heart attacks.