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NIH Blueprint D-Span Award

June 30, 2020

Ti’Air Riggins to advance research on implanted neurotechnology

Ti'Air Riggins receives prestigious fellowship to continue her research in implanted neurotechnology.
Ti'Air Riggins receives prestigious NIH fellowship to continue her research.

Ti’Air Riggins, a PhD student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, will advance MSU’s ongoing research on implanted neurotechnology with a prestigious fellowship, an NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience Award. The NIH recognition supports graduate students from diverse backgrounds underrepresented in neuroscience research, from their graduate studies to their postdoctoral research.

The award will help Riggins transition from graduate studies to a tenure-track career in academia with neuroscience-based research.

Riggins is a graduate assistant of Erin Purcell, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, where she leads the Regenerative Electrode Interface Lab, and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The lab is part of the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering (IQ), where Purcell is an investigator in the Neuroengineering Division.

Riggins is investigating the impact of implantable neurotechnology on normal to reactive astrocytes – the star-shaped glial cells that regulate the transmission of electrical impulses in the brain. She hopes to develop strategies that prolong the function of implants in patients.

Initial immunostaining of rat cortical astrocytes.
Initial immunostaining of rat cortical astrocytes.

“It potentially could improve probe stability,” Riggins explained.

Purcell said Riggins has already made important contributions in her laboratory.

“She co-authored a recent review article and carved out new hypotheses related to our investigations of reactive astrocytes surrounding implanted neurotechnology. I look forward to supporting her continued path to success as a neural engineer,” Purcell added.

As a third-year PhD candidate, the award will provide funding for the remainder of Riggins’ graduate studies, four years of funding for her postdoctoral training, as well as sponsor travel and conference attendance.  Her research is supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders And Stroke of the National Institutes of Health, Award Number F99NS118738.

Story courtesy of MSU Biomedical Engineering Communications.
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