Final Words: Lauren Cornell
1) Your name, program, dissertation title.
Lauren Cornell, Translational Science Ph.D., Utility of Magnetic Nanoparticles for Targeted Corneal Endothelial Cellular Delivery
2) Please tell me about yourself, why did you pick UT Health San Antonio, and your program.
I had gotten my Master’s degree from UT Health San Antonio and had a wonderful experience with the university. When I found out about their Translational Science Program, I knew I had to apply. The classes were relevant and useful. It was a perfect fit for what I needed to learn to move forward in my career.
3) What has been the highlight of graduate school so far? Have you won any awards or have there been any achievements you’ve been proud of?
The highlight of graduate school, for me, was when I had the opportunity to apply for an FDA internship. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity in many other schools or programs, so I jumped on it and was chosen. I got to learn so much from a completely different perspective and I feel it really rounded out my education.
I have won a few awards while in grad school, but the internship was the best experience by far.
4) Please provide a few sentences summarizing your dissertation. What was the experience like for you?
My dissertation focused on a less invasive alternative to corneal transplants. Instead of transplanting pieces of tissue, we aimed to deliver only the cells needed through an injection into the cornea. We magnetized corneal endothelial cells by loading them with magnetic nanoparticles, and then applied an external magnetic field for targeted delivery. We evaluated the feasibility of this concept in human donor tissue.
5) Why are you passionate about your research topic? How did you first become interested in it?
My research is incredibly impactful because it has the potential to improve quality of life and vision restoration for our returning war fighters. After my Master’s, I took up a position at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR), where I worked with nanoparticles to improve care for ocular trauma injuries. You quickly see the importance of your work and how you can impact people’s lives here, so I became passionate about it rather quickly.
6) What’s next?
I am planning to continue working at the USAISR, but I will taking a more translational stance on my research.
7) Any advice for your fellow graduate students?
Stay in touch with your classmates and teachers! It is a small world out there and you never know when you’ll run into an old friend whether it be at your work on collaborating on a project. Those connections are valuable, keep them up if you can.