Past Fellows

Anna Jagielska

Research Scientist, Van Vliet Group
“Synthetic Neurons – A Novel Platform for Neuroscience Research and Drug Screening”

During her Kavanaugh Fellowship, Dr. Anna Jagielska worked on the development of artificial axons. These 3D printed polymer fibers mimic biological axons, the long neuronal extensions that are essential for neurological functions. This novel biomimetic platform allows researchers to create better experimental models of neurodegenerative diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s than today’s standards. The tunability of artificial axon properties, enabled by additive manufacturing, allows for modeling of various desired disease environments, making this platform a powerful research and drug development tool.

Following her Kavanaugh Fellowship, Anna has continued her work with the Van Vliet Group at MIT to develop the Artificial Axon platform as a vehicle for disease modeling and drug screening.  She has pursued this work in collaboration with a major pharmaceutical company, with whom she formed a connection during her fellowship year. Anna is currently working toward commercialization of the Artificial Axon platform, with the support of the Deshpande Center at MIT.

“I had a great privilege to be among the first cohort of the recipients of the Kavanaugh Fellowship. This fellowship was a critical point on the path to the commercialization of our Artificial Axons technology, which greatly accelerated the process by providing both the financial and mentorship support. There is nothing more motivating and energizing than the enthusiasm from the champions like I had in Bart Kavanaugh and Betty Saks, who traveled every month to MIT to meet with me, listen about my project, and provide advice. Their passion, dedication and mentorship kept me going during the year of the fellowship and keep me going now. This was one of the most valuable and great experiences of my career.”