BME undergraduate with focus on helping patients wins top award at national conference

Posted: March 20, 2023


Puri sits outside with greenery behind her. She is a female presenting person with long hair and a bright smile
Raima Puri

Biomedical engineering senior Raima Puri delivered the best undergraduate presentation at the 2023 Emerging Research National Conference in Washington, D.C., which was attended by over 1,200 students and researchers. The conference was hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Puri was recognized for her honors research thesis work under the advisement of Assistant Professor Katelyn Swindle-Reilly. Her research focuses on investigating lens epithelial cell interactions with polymeric biomaterials to gain scientific insight on ways to prevent a common complication after cataract surgery called posterior capsule opacification (PCO).

Cataract remains the leading cause of blindness worldwide with over 3 million extractions performed each year in the United States alone. PCO occurs when residual lens epithelial cells migrate to the posterior lens capsule and cause fibrosis. An important concern to Puri, PCO impacts all pediatric cataract patients. The ultimate goal of Puri’s research is to develop better intraocular lenses that do not induce these complications.

Impressively, in addition to placing first for undergraduate research presentation at the Emerging Research National Conference, Puri’s hard work and new insights has also resulted in a peer-reviewed journal article in Current Eye Research. What these accomplishments alone do not tell is the value for quality care that Puri brings to her work.

When asked about the significance of her research Puri said, “A secondary loss of vision by PCO causes a personal burden to those patients who have to suffer through another surgery or low-quality vision. This is concerning given that cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, with larger rates in developing countries.” It’s clear from listening to Puri that she values how her research can impact patient experiences.

It is unsurprising that this graduating senior has received offers to BME Master’s programs as well as offers to law schools, where she would study patent law. However, while discussing her achievements, Puri was quick to emphasize how much her accomplishments have been supported by Swindle-Reilly.

"Having a mentor who is an entrepreneur is great because you get to see the bridge between lab work and how it translates to patient use"

“Dr. Swindle-Reilly was the first who brought to my attention the larger effect of PCO with pediatric patients,” Puri explained. “Furthermore, instead of creating a treatment for PCO, her vision has been to prevent it from the point of incidence which is surgery. That type of forward-thinking is just one way she conducts a lab with a focus on helping patients.”

As a department that values learning and discovery by integrating engineering and life sciences for the advancement of human health, Ohio State BME is proud to have creative, collaborative, and driven students like Puri who enact this mission with the guidance of our faculty. We are excited to see how students like Puri take the experiences they gain in our program and apply them in the world.

If you would like to learn more about Puri’s achievement, or the Student Experiences in Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) program, which funded her travel to the Emerging Research National Conference, check out this article.

by Remi Hudgins, department of biomedical engineering,