Melissa Mahoney, 32
Making materials to treat brain damage
University of Colorado at Boulder
Nerve cell transplants offer tremendous promise for patients who are suffering the effects of stroke, or from Parkinsons disease or other neurodegenerative illnesses. But experiments in rodents showed that about 95 percent of cells transplanted into the brain die before they can help the recipient. Melissa Mahoney is working to develop hydrogel materials that can house the cells, protecting them and supplying them with proteins that encourage their growth. In collaboration with scientists at the University of Colorado at Denvers Health Sciences Center, Mahoney, an assistant professor of chemical engineering, plans to test these cell-loaded gels in rats within the next year.