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November Graduate Engineer of the Month making strides in wound healing

Nava Rijal’s research has the potential to improve diabetic wound therapy

Nava Rijal, a fourth-year biomedical engineering Ph.D. candidate, has been selected as the Graduate Engineer of the Month by the University of Cincinnati's College of Engineering and Applied Science for November 2019.

Rijal’s research focuses on developing novel therapy to stimulate diabetic wound healing and promote tissue regeneration. He’s been working with Daria Narmoneva, Ph.D., biomedical engineering professor, in collaboration with Andrei Kogan, Ph.D., physics professor, and the group’s research led to a recently patented noninvasive device that uses high-frequency electric fields to activate sluggish cells to improve treatment of diabetic ulcers. Diabetics are more prone to chronic wounds, often on the foot, that start with a small cut and are slow to heal; cells impacted by diabetes don’t respond as efficiently as healthy cells when it comes to healing. Untreated, these ulcers can potentially lead to amputation.

For Rijal, the research is personal.

“I chose this field because I believe I can make an actual impact to a patient’s life. My dad has diabetes so I wanted to do something related to diabetic wound healing. That was the main reason I pursued higher education,” Rijal said. “I get to design devices and do different real-time computer modelling and I get to work with different backgrounds of people that have different experiences and expertise in the field.”

The University of Cincinnati named Rijal the 2018 Frank R. Noyes, MD, and Joanne Noyes, BS, RN, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Scholar. He has also received additional accolades from UC including the excellence award for exemplary service, Sigma Xi Grant in Aid of Research award and recognition from the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He is an author on two patents, first author on two book chapters and four peer-reviewed manuscripts related to his research and the co-author on six peer-reviewed manuscripts. He has presented at the annual meeting of the Wound Healing Society, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Tech Transfer Innovation Challenge and the S2TC Cincinnati Skin Ecosystem Research Symposium sponsored by Procter & Gamble Co., where he was awarded best graduate student poster.

He has taken on leadership roles for the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Student Association, as well as the student chapter of the Society of Biomaterials at UC where he mentors and encourages graduate, undergraduate and high school students in the field.

“Good engineering students are good listeners and problem solvers,” Rijal said. “They know how to work with diverse backgrounds of people. Be you and trust yourself. Don’t hesitate to ask questions. Make mistakes. That will help you learn and succeed.”

In addition to his coursework and research, Rijal works as a term-adjunct faculty teaching statics and dynamics and research methods to biomedical engineering undergraduate students.

Featured image at top: Nava Rijal poses on UC's campus. Photo/Corrie Stookey/CEAS Marketing

Video link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/2ObCs4o7ry8?rel=0