Faces of Bioprinting: Meet CELLINK Ambassador Keerthana Elango from UC Berkeley

Hi CELLINK community! My name is Keerthana Elango, and I’m a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. I’m majoring in bioengineering with a concentration in tissue engineering, and I’m minoring in computer science. I do tissue engineering research within the mechanical engineering department at the Berkeley Biomechanics Lab.

1. How did you get started with bioprinting?

I first learned about bioprinting when I took the “Explorations in 3D Bioprinting” “Democratic Education at Cal” (DeCal) course at the start of my first year at UCB. The DeCal system allows undergraduates to create and teach their own courses to their peers, and I became inspired by bioprinting after that first class. After taking the class, I began teaching the course myself, and I also worked with my friends to start UCB’s first Bioprinting student organization (Bioprinting at Berkeley). Between the DeCal course and the student organization, we aim to provide UCB students with hands-on exposure to tissue engineering concepts and lab techniques, and to share our love of bioprinting. I am now the president of this club, where we run 1 bioscience subteam and 2 engineering subteams, and I learn more about bioprinting every day from my peers and from our club’s projects.

2. What made you interested in working with bioprinting?

I first became interested in bioprinting as a potential eventual solution to the organ transplantation waitlist crisis. As I learned more about the more about the field and its more immediate goals, I became excited to see how bioprinting can affect the pharmaceutical industry. The introduction of functional tissue constructs will play a pivotal role in increasing the accuracy of pre-clinical models, and make pharmaceutical testing more ethical overall. Bioprinting carries such potential for positive impact on people’s lives that I am eager to play a part in bringing about this improvement in pre-clinical testing.

3. What do you hope to accomplish through bioprinting?

I hope to be one of the people who brings bioprinting (and tissue engineering) onto the global stage. I’m really inspired by the potential bioprinting holds in both the short term and the long term for the biotech and medical fields, and I can’t wait to see it in wide use!

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