Materials Research Laboratory: Interns at the forefront of new technology


Developing multiple sclerosis models

“Summer Scholar Fernando Nieves Muñoz, from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, worked in the lab of Krystyn Van Vliet, the Michael (1949) and Sonja Koerner Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, to develop mechanical models of multiple sclerosis (MS) lesions. Nieves Muñoz worked closely with research scientist Anna Jagielska and chemical engineering graduate student Daniela Espinosa-Hoyos.

“We are trying to find a way to stimulate repair of myelin in MS patients so that neurological function can be restored. To better understand how remyelination works, we are developing polymer-based materials to engineer models of MS lesions that mimic mechanical stiffness of real lesions in the brain,” Jagielska explains.

Nieves Muñoz used stereolithography 3-D printing to create cross-linked polymers with varying degrees of mechanical stiffness and conducted atomic force microscopy studies to determine the stiffness of his samples. “Our long-term goal is to use these models of lesions and brain tissue to develop drugs that can stimulate myelin repair,” Nieves Muñoz says. “As a mechanical engineering major, it has been exciting to work and learn from people with diverse backgrounds.”

Other MIT Materials Research Laboratory interns tackled projects including superconducting thin films, quantum dots for solar, spinning particles with magnetism, carbon-activated silk fibers, water-based iron flow batteries, and polymer-based neuro fibers.”