2019 Scholarship Winner Feature – Michael Algarra

STLE Section Awards Scholarship to Drexel University Undergraduate Student

L to R: Scholarship Committee Member William Tuszinski, Scholarship Awardee Michael Algarra, and Scholarship Committee Member Salvatore Rea

The Philadelphia Section of the STLE is pleased to award a scholarship to Michael Algarra, an undergraduate student in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University. As a student focusing directly on Tissue Engineering, Michael finds that tribology is a huge driving factor in the design of any biomaterial product. One example of this is the prominence of DDD, Degenerative Disc Disease, which is a disease that affects 300 million people per year. This is a disease that basically causes the disc between two vertebrae to deteriorate due to age and wear, thus causing a need to have something in place of that disc, to reduce the pain from a bad back. This past year, Michael has been able to co-op at a spinal device company, in which he was a part of the biomaterials team. They create products that have osteoinductive, osteogenic, and osteostimulative qualities that can be placed within the disc void spaces to regenerate the bone and cartilage that make up that part of the spine. By doing this it relieves the friction between the vertebrae, thus relieving the pain. Michael plans to continue his studies of tissue engineering that could be used to fix arthritic joints and painful frictional spaces.