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
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."