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Harrisburg University’s culture of inquiry has transformed the University into one of Pennsylvania’s premier Science and Technology research institutions.

Our professors have teamed with students on research that is poised to save animals, clean up polluted waterways, transform skin-graft surgeries, and revolutionize the capability of internet data.

But that’s just four Harrisburg University breakthroughs.

Our professors continue to launch innovative projects, studies, and experiments that give students invaluable hands-on experience while placing them at the ground-floor of ceiling-shattering research.

To accomplish this, each year University President Dr. Eric Darr awards Presidential Research Grants to professors whose goal is to work with students to enrich, innovate and advance human life with their work. The grants have funded nine projects this year alone.

“We made a turn from focusing on just teaching to focusing on teaching and research in a very conscious way by bringing on faculty that have research portfolios,” President Darr said. “People pay attention to the work that gets done because it solves real-world problems and that raises the visibility of Harrisburg University.”

From an edu-gaming system that pushes students to think on their feet to the use of drones to map out the history of populations, research at Harrisburg University shows us who we are, and where we are going.

Ever hear of data that has a mind of its own?

How about a metric that gives businesses insights into the decision-making capabilities of potential employees?

An insatiable desire to break through barriers has helped make Harrisburg University the educational, economic development and research engine that it is today.

And we’re just getting started.

We aren’t simply lecturing and transferring information to our students at Harrisburg University. We’re discovering a dazzling array of knowledge that is changing the world.

The HU Center for Applied Regenerative Medicine is one of the University’s most ambitious breakthroughs. 

Past recipients of the Presidential Research Grant, Professors Glenn Mitchell and Leena Pattarkine again were awarded funds this year to continue developing the Center for Applied Regenerative Medicine, a focus of which involves using hydrogels to develop 3D printed skin grafts to treat severe burn patients.

Professors Mitchell and Pattarkine used the first round of funding to engage undergraduate and graduate Biotechnology majors in the development of Bio-Printing Technology and to improve hydrogels for cell regeneration. The work led to the creation of a 3D printed extruder prototype that was designed and built in-house, and the team has worked to optimize hydrogel-based cell growth protocols that will provide cells for printing skin grafts.

This year’s funding is allowing the team to continue its work with regenerative medicine, a very promising field that has the potential to provide relief for several chronic health conditions. Involving students in this project gives them a chance to develop research skills in the fast-growing field of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Not many institutions offer hands-on experience in such advanced topics to students, and this will give our students a distinct advantage when entering the workforce.

This research has the potential to lead to a more cost-effective skin graft surgical process, reduce scarring and will make skin grafts more readily available.

As Pattarkine puts it, 3D printed skin grafts are “optimized for the patient, cost-effective, with a portability component for global application!”

Harrisburg University is committed to solving real-world problems via innovative research.

Stay tuned as we continue to chronicle our Breakthroughs that stand to change the way we work, live, play and think.