Desiree White-Schenk

Desiree White-Schenk Profile Picture
Biomedical Sciences

Mentor / Lab:
Dr. James F. Leary and Dr. Riyi Shi/Center for Paralysis Research (CPR)

Specific Research Area / Project:
Therapeutic Silica Nanoparticles

Undergraduate Institution:
Kettering University, Biochemistry 2011

Research Profile:

After spinal cord injury, secondary injury causes surrounding, healthy tissues to die. Not only is the initial injury site stressed and dying, but other tissue in the vicinity also begins to die. A destructive, regenerating culprit, acrolein (2-propenal), has been implicated in secondary injury. The aldehyde overwhelms the natural anti-oxidant system, creates a cascade of oxidative stress, reacts freely with proteins, and releases during lipid peroxidation, effectively regenerating its self. Hydralazine, an FDA-approved drug for hypertension, actively scavenges and reacts with acrolein, but its delivery is both inefficient and can induce critically low blood pressure in a patient. Nanoparticles, specifically silica nanoparticles, have potential to address the issue of hydralazine delivery. Silica nanoparticles have a facile synthesis scheme and a spongy, porous structure, which allows them to be a delivery vehicle. My project involves using modified silica nanoparticles for targeting purposes in spinal cord injury. Using a layer-by-layer assembly, silica nanoparticles can be synthesized, modified, and loaded with therapeutic drugs to create a nanomedical system. By effectively delivering a therapy using a layered silica nanoparticle system, the detrimental acrolein effects could be ameliorated, reducing the spread of secondary injury and cell death.

About Me:

Desiree White-Schenk About Me Picture

During my undergraduate education, I studied biochemistry and synthetic organic chemistry. When I decided to attend graduate school, I knew that I wanted to apply my knowledge of biology and love of organic chemistry to a problem, rather than pursuing research in basic science. I had worked with engineers, chemists, and even physicians on different interdisciplinary problems and found the meshing of different perspectives and skills rewarding, interesting, and, frequently, quite challenging. In order to do this type of research in graduate school, I joined the IBS program at Purdue which merges biomedical engineering with the basic medical sciences. Being a part of this program allows me to apply my knowledge, which is not traditional engineering, to an engineering problem with the support of my basic sciences background.


  • Certificate of Excellence, OIGP Student Poster Reception, 2012.
  • NSF Graduate Fellowship Recipient, 2011.


  • Wang L, White D, Santos E, and Rabago Smith M (under review) Kinetics and mechanistic studies on the reaction between cytochrome C and Tea catechins. J. Biol. Chem.
  • Yuan S, White D, Mason A, Reprogle B, Ferrandon M, Yu L, Liu DJ (in press) Improving Hydrogen Adsorption Enthalpy through Coordinatively Unsaturated Cobalt in Porous Polymers. Macromol. Rapid Comm. doi: 10.1002/marc.201100797
  • Smith MR, Atkinson P, White D, Piersma T, Gutierrez G, Rossini G, Desai S, Wellinghoff S, Yu H, Cheng X (in press) Design and assessment of a wrapped cylindrical Ca-P AZ31 Mg alloy for criticalsize ulna defect repair. J. Biomed. Mater. Res. B Appl. Biomater. doi: 10.1002/jbm.b.31940
  • White, D and Rabago Smith, M (2011) Genotype-phenotype Associations and Human Eye Color: A review. J. Hum. Genetics. doi: 10.1038/jhg.2010.126
  • Yuan S, Dorney B, White D, Kirklin S, Zapol P, and Liu DJ. (2010) Microporous polyphenylenes with tunable pore size for hydrogen storage. Chem. Comm. 46(25):4547-9


  • White D, Leary JF, Shi R (2012) Designing Silica Nanoparticles for Spinal Cord Injury Therapy. Poster presentation at the OIGP Student Poster Session.
  • Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences Program
  • Jana Vincent

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