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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 19, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 35
For the Record: WSE's Sharon Gerecht Wins Young Engineer Award

The Maryland Science Center has selected Sharon Gerecht, a Johns Hopkins faculty member who is trying to steer stem cells toward therapeutic applications, as this year's Outstanding Young Engineer. During a May 15 ceremony, the award was presented to Gerecht, an assistant professor in the Whiting School's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

According to the science center, its Outstanding Young Engineer and Outstanding Young Scientist awards recognize the extraordinary scientific contributions of Maryland residents under the age of 35. This year's Outstanding Young Scientist award went to Andrea Meredith, assistant professor in the Department of Physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Recipients are selected by members of the Maryland Science Center's Scientific Council, a 14- member advisory group that provides expertise and content review to the institution. Each awardee receives a cash prize of $2,500 and the Allan C. Davis Medal.

Gerecht's research focuses on engineering stem cells for specific therapeutic applications. Because differentiation and function of stem cells are greatly influenced by their microenvironment, Gerecht exploits modern microengineering techniques to alter these microenvironments. By doing so, she seeks to engineer stem cells that can be used to perform specific functions or tasks.

Nineteen articles have resulted from Gerecht's thesis work; she has also written four book chapters, and has filed for three patents.

In her nomination of Gerecht, Kathleen Stebe, professor and chair of the Whiting School's Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, wrote, "Professor Gerecht is an extraordinarily productive and creative researcher who is setting the pace for bioengineering stem cell systems. Given her combination of expertise and creative vision, Professor Gerecht is uniquely positioned to make headway in this field."


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