Leah is a graduate student in the Biomolecular Science and Engineering program. She received her bachelor of science from UCSB in Winter 2013 and began the Ph.D. program at UCSB in Fall 2013. After focusing her undergraduate studies on neuronal research, Leah joined the Clegg lab in Spring 2014. In addition to research, Leah occasionally teaches undergraduate courses in general biology. She has recently collaborated with others on developing three-dimensional scaffolds for tissue engineering.
Age-related macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in the elderly and there are no cures for the wet or dry form of the disease. The pathology of the disease involves the death of retinal pigmented epithelium cells at the back of the eye. Leah’s research hopes to develop a three-dimensional scaffold for tissue engineering to serve as a potential implant and/or in vitro disease model. The application of a three-dimensional scaffold may also be applied to diabetic retinopathy, another form of blindness, or other cell types (i.e. osteoblasts and/or keratinocytes for creating an implant after a trauma). Success with three-dimensional cell cultures would be advantageous in recreating the microenvironment of a cell and improving current stem cell culture techniques.