Global Biomedical Engineering Program Graduates First Atlanta Triple-Degree Doctorate

Warren Gray to be first Atlanta graduate of the joint PhD program at Georgia Tech, Emory and Peking University

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Adrianne Proeller
Writer, Wallace H. Coulter
Department of Biomedical Engineering

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Warren Gray to be first graduate of the joint PhD program at Georgia Tech, Emory and Peking University

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Warren Gray to be first graduate of the joint PhD program at Georgia Tech, Emory and Peking University

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  • Warren Gray - first student to receive triple-degree doctorate from Georgia Tech, Emory University and Peking University Warren Gray - first student to receive triple-degree doctorate from Georgia Tech, Emory University and Peking University
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This May, Warren Gray will be the first Atlanta student to graduate from the Global Biomedical Engineering (BME) joint Ph.D. program, a partnership of Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology and Peking University (PKU). To honor this milestone, Emory invited Gray to serve as the Marshall in their commencement, carrying the banner for the school and leading the line of soon-to-be graduates to convocation.

By participating in two different commencement ceremonies this month, Gray knows that he’s “a bit of an anomaly” — usually Emory and Georgia Tech BME students pick one ceremony to attend, “but I’ve worked at both institutions, so I’ll walk at both institutions,” he says.

Created by the Emory School of Medicine and Georgia Tech College of Engineering, the interdisciplinary BME program represents a collaboration between public and private universities that is both highly unusual and highly acclaimed — since its founding in 1997, the BME program has been ranked second in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Warren is the first to graduate from the Emory / Georgia Tech side; Three students from the PKU side of the program have also graduated.

During the first two years of his program, Gray attended classes at both Emory and Georgia Tech, co-advised by professors in labs at both schools. His third year was spent in China, fulfilling a desire “to interface with people scientifically and culturally.”

Gray’s first year of research was spent exploring how microscopic nanoparticles could be used as a vehicle to deliver therapeutic drug molecules directly to heart muscle cells to aid cardiac function.

While in China, his focus expanded to enhancing the heart’s regenerative potential, specifically by improving blood vessel formation to help increase blood flow to the heart. His research was built upon employing “a new type of architecture” for cell-based drug delivery, using bow-tie dendrimers — a class of radially symmetric, branched polymers.

Since returning to Emory, Gray’s work has centered on an emerging realm of stem cell therapy, specifically the regenerative potential of exosomes — small molecules which signal cells to help form blood vessels and mitigate scar formation in damaged heart tissue. It’s possible that someday, a pharmaceutical company could “farm” and concentrate those secreted exosomes, which might then be injected directly into damaged heart tissue, Gray notes.

He’s already working with Emory on filing a provisional patent surrounding his research. Gray says. “This is something that could actually be helping patients within the next decade.”

Gray defended his doctoral work in March, but has remained at Emory to continue collaborating with his research adviser Michael Davis, associate professor and director of the Pediatric Center for Cardiovascular Biology at Emory School of Medicine.

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Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering

Categories
Student and Faculty, Student Research, Research
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Bioengineering and Bioscience
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  • Created By: Colly Mitchell
  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created On: May 5, 2014 - 7:03am
  • Last Updated: Oct 7, 2016 - 11:16pm