A Wonderful Second Summer in Philadelphia

Ryann Joseph, SEAS ’25, Powell, OH

This summer was my second summer in the Mitchell Lab in the Department of Bioengineering. I have been working in this lab since January of 2022, so this summer gave me the opportunity to dive into the research that I’ve been learning about for over a year now.

The Mitchell lab specializes in drug delivery, most commonly with the vehicle being a Lipid Nanoparticle (LNP) and the cargo being some sort of nucleic acid, such as mRNA – just like the COVID vaccine! Our lab works on many different projects related to this mechanism of drug delivery, where LNPs can be used in many ways, including vaccines, therapeutics, and genome editing.

Before this summer, I worked a lot on mRNA therapeutics, including Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, which entailed delivering CAR mRNA to T cells for anti-cancer therapy. This summer, I was able to pivot into working with a lot of different aspects of LNP research, including the chemistry behind our particles and different cargoes. I spent most of my summer working on a project focusing on LNP delivery to solid tumors, an aspect of the field that is vastly understudied. Penetrating the tumor microenvironment (TME) is a large goal of the field, and it has been awesome being part of this research.

Along with this research, I have been able to focus on a lot more chemistry behind the LNPs, including learning new analytical methods including purifying our ionizable lipids – a process that is important to improving the validity of the particles, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. My background in organic chemistry has allowed me to dive deeper into these techniques, and I have learned a lot.

Also, this summer has launched me into multiple new projects in the lab, including focusing a lot more on stereochemistry – another facet of the organic chemistry background, and using LNPs for genomic editing.

This summer has been extremely rewarding, and I am very grateful to Career Services for helping make it possible!

This is part of a series of posts by recipients of the 2023 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they spent their summer. You can read the entire series here

By Career Services
Career Services