Bioengineering Master’s Alumna is Lead Co-Author of Research Paper Published on Cover of Tissue Engineering Part A Journal
While conducting research, Boting Li, ME’19, bioengineering, harvested biomaterials from Assistant Professor Sidi Bencherif’s lab and cell cultures from Assistant Professor Ambika Bajpayee’s lab to create a model to rebuild tissues caused by cartilage defects. While working on this project she developed a more effective protocol to harvest cells from bovine tissue. Her work led to her becoming the lead co-author on a paper that was published in the June 2021 issue of Tissue Engineering Part A and featured on its cover.
As a teenager in Shanghai, China, Boting Li, ME’19, bioengineering, wanted to be a doctor and when she learned that biomedical research was fundamental within the medical field, she decided to pursue biomedical engineering with a concentration in medical device design for her undergraduate degree. As her interest in biomaterials and the biomedical area grew, she began to search for graduate programs within the Boston area. “There were not many program options to choose from in China. I heard that Boston was known for biomedical research and there was access to a lot of medical research resources,” says Li. She selected Northeastern University because of the co-op program and the opportunity to gain industry experience to increase her chances of employability when beginning her job search.
While in the MS in Bioengineering program, Li gained a well-rounded, hands-on academic experience. She took courses such as biomaterials which allowed her to gain a lot of fundamental knowledge that she found useful throughout the entirety of her program. She enjoyed how her professors incorporated their experience into their teaching and combined cutting-edge research with knowledge gained through case studies. Li developed friendships with her classmates and lab associates whom she is still in contact with today.
Li also gained a lot of experience while working in the research labs of both Assistant Professor Ambika Bajpayee, bioengineering, and Assistant Professor Sidi A. Bencherif, chemical engineering. “I didn’t have any wet-lab experience and I learned all of the biological lab skills from scratch. I’m very grateful for this research experience that both developed my technical skills and inspired my research mindset,” says Li.
Bajpayee’s lab focuses on drug delivery to connective and charged tissues to cure degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis. While conducting research in the labs, Li harvested biomaterials from Bencherif’s lab and cell cultures from Bajpayee’s lab to create a model to rebuild tissues caused by cartilage defects. While working on this project she developed a more effective protocol to harvest cells from bovine tissue, allowing future research students to extract more cells from the tissue.
This was a challenging and rewarding experience, enabling Li to become the lead co-author on a paper that was published in the June 2021 issue of Tissue Engineering Part A and featured on its cover. The published paper was based on the research from her lab experience and her graduate thesis paper. Through this program, she was also able to attend the Society For Biomaterials Forum in 2019 and had the opportunity to present her findings in the forum. This presentation was also very useful during her job search as she was able to bring the presentation poster to her interviews and use it as a visual aid to explain her research.
Currently, Li works as a research associate in cell line development at Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she is developing a new method for sequencing and confirming a specific gene of interest. As for the future, Li is considering a PhD program as she is curious about pursuing a different area of study such as molecular genetics. She also feels that a PhD would increase her options and allow her to continue building a career in this field. “It’s reaching a point when I can see the future of my career and I think a PhD is needed to continue going down this road. It’s also an opportunity to dive into a field that worth to devote the rest of life, and both the graduate study and working experience were indispensable for me to think this through.” Li says.