Abel Cortinas

abel-cortinas-_-bio-photo

Biological Engineering
PhD Candidate
4th Year

 

HOMETOWN: Floydada, Texas

UNDERGRADUATE INSTITUTION: Texas Tech University

WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN YOUR CURRENT FIELD/WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT IT? 

I had very little background in the field of drug development/delivery when I arrived at MIT. My background was primarily traditionally chemical engineering as it’s applied to the energy and chemical industries. However, when I finally came to MIT, I quickly stumbled upon all of the exciting research pioneered by Professors Robert Langer and Daniel Anderson, specifically in the field of Diabetes that involved the prospect of developing new materials for creating an artificial pancreas as well as engineering insulin to create smarter therapies for existing patients. The idea of creating something so new and novel, something that hasn’t been made by anyone before, was really enticing and something that I never really considered before. It started off as a brief meeting with these professors, and ended with me being very stubborn about joining their labs to try and contribute to these research efforts, and in the end I joined the lab of Professor Daniel Anderson and have been working on the problem of creating smart insulin therapies ever since.

PERSONAL RESEARCH SUMMARY:

Diabetes mellitus is a global epidemic currently affecting over 380 million individuals worldwide, and the number of affected individuals is projected to increase to more than half a billion by 2035 according to the International Diabetes Federation. Current standards of care for severe forms of diabetes usually involve, in part, repeat injections of insulin, which can be subject to poor patient compliance due in part to the strict monitoring requirements of patient blood sugar levels, as well as the physiological differences from patient to patient. My research involves the rational design of novel insulin conjugates engineered to mimic the functionality of a healthy pancreas, to help alleviate some of this burden. The main focus of this work is to provide the single protein with all of the necessary tools to perform in a responsive manner, similar to the pancreas, without the use of complex polymeric or non-biological systems, thereby creating a lean, all-in-one protein therapy that can regulate a patient’s blood sugar without the risk noncompliance.

PERSONAL INTERESTS: I really like salsa dancing, playing my guitar, and hiking!