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UC San Diego Graduate Students Bring the Sparkle of GEM to Preuss Students

November 15, 2016 – The Galvanizing Engineering in Medicine (GEM) program has launched a series of monthly talks at the Preuss School with the goal of inspiring the next generation of scientists. GEM, a program supported by UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) and UC San Diego Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM), brings engineers and clinicians together to develop innovative technology solutions to challenging problems in medical care. In the talk series, UC San Diego graduate students share research highlights from GEM projects with Preuss students.

“We are really excited about bringing scientific discoveries to life for Preuss students through this new series,” said Priya Bisarya, who spearheaded the cross-functional initiative between IEM and the ACTRI education unit. “This amazing program also helps create role models for these students, who are underrepresented in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math].”

Bisarya, a Jacobs School Scholar and recent UC San Diego bioengineering graduate, has served as the student member of the GEM selection committee since the inception of the program. Each year, the committee selects clinician-engineer teams to conduct research on projects that range from developing better ways to monitor patient sleep during recovery to creating safer and less expensive instrumentation for internally viewing organs. The program began in 2013.

The Preuss School UCSD is a unique charter middle and high school affiliated for low-income students who strive to become the first in their families to attend college. Nearly 100 percent of Preuss graduates go on to higher education.

“We hope to encourage these students, who often lack exposure to fields outside of the classroom, to pursue STEM as a college major by showing them the innovative collaborations that are taking place in the field and getting them excited about the possibilities for a STEM career,” said Deborah Spector, PhD, director of the ACTRI Translational Research Alliance and a leader in the GEM program. “Priya has put together a speaker series in which a graduate student who is working directly or indirectly on a GEM-funded project will conduct a 60-minute presentation on his or her research to the students.”

The series is a double win. It gives graduate students an opportunity to present their research to laypeople while making a significant impact in the lives of future scientists and engineers. “Not only do they present on the research itself, but also on their journeys and their motivations for pursuing a career in STEM – with the end goal of inspiring the students,” Spector said.

Below is the schedule for the GEM Speaker Series at The Preuss School. Please contact Priya Bisarya at with any questions.

The GEM Speaker Series at The Preuss School


November 9, 2016

Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials for Treating Cardiovascular Disease
Presenter: Jessica Ungerleider
GEM Project PIs: Karen Christman, PhD and Marianna Alperin, MD, MAS


November 30, 2016

Restoring Vision with Retinal Implants & Other Applications of Electronics in Medicine
Presenter: Abraham Akinin
GEM Project PIs: Gert Cauwenberghs, PhD, Gabriel Silva, PhD, and William Freeman, MD


January 11, 2017

3D Printable and Disposable Endoscopes
Presenters: Karcher Morris and Anay Pandit
GEM Project PIs: Frank Talke, PhD and Thomas Savides, MD


February 1, 2017

Computer Simulation and the Future of Cardiac Health
Presenter: Kimberly McCabe
GEM Project PIs: Andrew McCulloch, PhD and David Krummen, MD


March 1, 2017

Rubber-Like Electronic Devices
Presenter: Yue Gu
GEM Project PIs: Sheng Xu, PhD and Robert Owens, MD


April 5, 2017

Developing Point-of-Care Biosensors for the Future of Medical Diagnostics
Presenter: Alexander Sun
GEM Project PIs: Drew Hall, PhD and Douglas Conrad, MD


June 5, 2017

Training T Cells to Target Tumors
Presenter: Molly Allen
GEM Project PIs: Peter Wang, PhD and Xiangdong Xu, MD, PhD

About UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute:

UC San Diego Altman Clinical and Translational Research Institute (ACTRI) is part of a national Clinical and Translational Science Award consortium, led by the National Institutes of Health National Center for Advancing Translational Science. Established in 2010, ACTRI provides infrastructure and support for basic, translational and clinical research throughout the San Diego region to bring discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside, and facilitates training and education of the next generation of researchers. ACTRI carries out its activities in collaboration with institutional and corporate partners and currently has more than 1,500 members.