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Can you tell us about yourself? How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and uncommon career?
During her studies in India as a biomedical engineering master’s student (IIT Mumbai) working with biomaterials, Shalu Suri became even more interested in combining medicine and engineering. She started to look at doctoral programs, and UT Austin was her top choice after doing her MS (Bochemistry) from Kanpur University and MTech (BioMedical Engineering) from IIT Mumbai.
“I looked at faculty profiles and all the cutting-edge research that was being done there, especially in the fields of biomaterials and tissue engineering by professors like Christine Schmidt, Nicholas Peppas, Krish Roy, and Laura Suggs,” she said.
What did you do at UT Austin?
Suri came to UT Austin in 2005 and worked with Professor Christine Schmidt (now at University of Florida) on multiple projects using natural polymers for engineering neural grafts.
She had opportunities to collaborate on other research projects, including with Dr. Shaochen Chen, a mechanical engineering professor currently with University of California San Diego. Chen created an innovative 3D printing technique. Using that technique, along with materials from Dr. Schmidt’s lab, Suri created nerve conduits that had architecture mimicking natural nerves.
Suri attended Georgia Tech for her postdoctoral research where she gained expertise in biomaterials, microfluidics, mouse model, and stem cells. She also engineered an approach to detect biomaterial inflammation and infection in a minimally invasive fashion.
She worked with microfluidic systems for cell-based systems, developed devices to study stem cells at single cell level, and developed and tested mouse models to determine if fluorescent probes worked to detect inflammation or infection from biomaterial implants.
What are you doing at Cornell?
Since 2013, she worked as a Research Scientist at Cornell University with Dr. Brian Kirby, where she was involved in a clinical trial and studied circulating tumor cells in prostate cancer patients after they have been treated with microtubule inhibitors. The group has developed a microfluidic chip in their lab called GEDI, Geometrically Enhanced Device Immunocapture, which is used to capture the circulating tumor cells from a patient’s blood and treat them with microtubule inhibitors.
Starting 2015, Suri has transitioned into academic teaching in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University where she is developing and teaching undergrad and graduate level biomedical engineering courses.
Her time in Austin marks one of the best times in Suri’s life.
“In addition to my education, Austin is where I was married and had my first child,” she said.
Suri married Ankur Singh, who also graduated with his PhD from UT Austin in 2010. The two of them live in Ithaca, New York with their two daughters Aanya and Aditi.