Marc Polacco, a third-year medical student at the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, was recently awarded the 2013 Carolyn L. Kuckein Student Research Fellowship presented by Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.
The fellowship supports student-designed and initiated projects and includes a $5,000 award, with $1,000 available for travel to a national meeting to present research results.
Polacco will conduct his research under the mentorship of Marlan Hansen, MD, UI assistant professor of otolaryngology – head and neck surgery, and will work in collaboration with C. Allan Guymon, PhD, UI professor of chemical and biochemical engineering. Polacco will investigate how micropatterned surfaces, created in polymers, are able to guide the growth of nerve cell projections called neurites.
If these polymer surfaces could be used to direct and control growth of auditory nerve neurites in relation to cochlear implant electrodes, this technology might help improve the performance of cochlear implants.
"Being an avid musician, researching methods to improve patients’ auditory experience is particularly meaningful to me," Polacco says.
The fellowship program honors Carolyn L. Kuckein, long-time administrator of Alpha Omega Alpha and an honorary member of the society, who died in 2004. For more information, visit Alpha Omega Alpha.