Avinava Roy first in MSE to receive AHA fellowship

The American Heart Association (AHA) award will help support Roy’s research, which aims to help patients with atherosclerosis, a common cause of heart attacks.
Avinava Roy first in MSE to receive AHA fellowship

PhD candidate Avinava Roy, a member of the Loebel group

MSE is pleased to announce that PhD student Avinava Roy recently received a 2024 American Heart Association (AHA) predoctoral fellowship. A member of the Loebel group, Roy is the first MSE student to win this prestigious honor in recent memory.

“Avinava is hardworking, creative and not afraid of stepping out of his comfort zone when it comes to asking new research questions,” said Roy’s mentor, Assistant Professor Claudia Loebel. “I am very proud that he received this recognition as probably the first MSE student to win the AHA predoctoral fellowship.” 

The fellowship will help support Roy’s research that aims to help heart patients with atherosclerosis, a condition where fat and cholesterol accumulate on artery walls causing obstruction of blood flow.

According to Roy, arteries with unusually buckled shapes - such as twists or bends (clinically termed tortuosity), exacerbate atherosclerosis by hindering blood flow and damaging artery walls. 

“Understanding how the morphological changes in blood vessel shape leads to atherosclerosis is challenging due to limitations in studying it outside the body,” he explained. “We aim to develop a system using dynamic magneto-active hydrogels that can mimic arterial tortuosity to study cell reactions and test blood pressure medications.”

In addition to providing the necessary financial backing to fully commit to this project, the AHA Predoctoral Fellowship also funds professional development, presentations at cardiovascular research-focused conferences and ample networking opportunities with collaborators and beyond.

“I was pleasantly surprised and deeply honored to secure this prestigious fellowship,” said Roy. “This recognition not only validates the significance of my research in using materials science applications towards medicine, but also provides crucial support to further advance my work.

“I would like to thank my advisor, Prof. Claudia Loebel, and collaborator for this project, Prof. Brendon Baker, for providing me with resources that made me believe I could achieve all that I have,” Roy continued. “Dr. Loebel has been unwavering in her support, including assembling the right team of lab members whose constructive feedback has helped me grow immensely as a researcher.” 

Because there are a limited number of fellowships available to international students, Roy, who earned an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Engineering Science & Technology in West Bengal, India, says it is not impossible to secure one with the right combination of dedication and strategy. 

“I would be most happy to share my experience and anything that might be helpful for my peers and juniors applying to similar opportunities,” he said.

Congratulations, Avinava!