Alabama State University‘s Biomedical Engineering Department has been awarded a $1.2 million grant to student kidney tissue regeneration by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

The department will study how to incorporate artificial intelligence in the design of 3-dimensional scaffolds for renal tissue regeneration.

“This research addresses a very critical issue in the United States. Many of us know someone who suffers from this disease, and we need creative approaches to address it,” said Principal Investigator Dr. Derrick Dean, professor and director of Biomedical Engineering. “We also appreciate support from Dr. (Quinton) Ross, which was instrumental in helping to secure the funding.”

According to Dean, approximately 37 million people in the United States suffer from chronic kidney disease (CKD) which can progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which is irreversible.

He stresses the importance of the project, saying “that it will enable the design of more functional kidney tissue constructs for renal diseases.”

The project will provide interdisciplinary education and training opportunities for graduate students in the planned Ph.D. program in Integrative Engineering and Biosciences. It will also provide professional development workshops and community outreach activities, according to Dean.

“This will help improve the research quality of the institution and can contribute to increased diversity in the STEM workforce,” said Dean.

Funding for the project is being provided by the NSF Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology and HBCU Research Infrastructure for Science and Engineering (CREST HBCU-RISE) program, which supports the expansion of institutional research capacity as well as the successful training of doctoral students, especially those from groups underrepresented in STEM at HBCUs, according to the university.