Chemistry graduate student receives 1st place at the 2018 BioInterface Workshop and Symposium


Image of Hailey Hibbard and two other students at the BioInterface Award show in Boulder, COChemistry graduate student Hailey Hibbard was awarded the 1st place prize at the 2018 National BioInterface Workshop and Symposium Poster session, which was held on October 1-3, 2018, in Boulder, Colorado.

The BioInterface Student Poster session was open to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from U.S. or international academic institutions. Students were encouraged to present their work, focusing on an industrial medical device audience. Specifically, students were required to include a translational path to market as a scoring criteria.

During the Student Poster Session, students competed for the “Best Student Poster” Award, which recognizes excellence in student research. A panel of judges selected Hibbard as this year’s winner based on her poster presentation “Multifunctional Material for the Detection and Killing of Bacteria for Use in Medical Devices,” and was recognized at the Wednesday luncheon and awarded a $1,000 USD cash prize.

Hibbard attended the BioInterface 2018 Workshop and Symposium to present her research to an industrial-focused audience, as well as to learn more about the issues and problems facing the biomedical device industry and how to bridge the gap between industry and academia. The Surfaces in Biomaterials Foundation is dedicated to exploring creative solutions to technical challenges at the BioInterface by fostering education and multidisciplinary cooperation among industrial, academic, clinical and regulatory communities.

When commenting on her award, Hibbard stated that “This award provides recognition of a long-term project that has recently led to exciting results. This work has been submitted to a journal and is currently under review. Moving forward, I would like to optimize the properties of the material, which could have commercial opportunities in the biomedical device industry.”

Hibbard’s research in the Reynolds Group developing new antibacterial compounds, which she presented at the Biointerface Symposium, is important because “by 2050, one person will die every three seconds from a bacterial infection, surpassing both heart disease and cancer as the most common cause of death. This epidemic of antibiotic-resistant bacteria creates a critical need for researchers to develop better methods of detection and treatment for bacterial infections.” About the research presented at the symposium, Hibbard says, “Excitingly, a compound has been synthesized which is capable of both detecting and killing bacteria. The synthesized fluorescent small molecule produces an obvious and distinct color change from blue to yellow in the presence of a deadly bacteria strain, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Nitric oxide, a small molecule with broad spectrum antibacterial activity, was then incorporated onto the fluorescent compound as a nitric oxide donor. The compound was then able to release nitric oxide to kill bacteria, killing 55-75% of bacteria in its presence.” In the future, “after optimization, this compound could be incorporated into a polymer and used to create materials that could both indicate when a bacterial infection is occurring and kill the infection. These materials could include antibacterial bandages, gels, or sprays that could also indicate where bacteria are growing.”

Hibbard is a fourth-year PhD candidate, and plans on presenting her research at this year’s CSU Graduate Student Showcase on November 13, 2018. Hibbard’s current research focuses on synthesizing antibacterial small molecule drugs that will release nitric oxide in the presence of bacteria upon enzymatic activation. She plans to continue this work, focusing on optimizing the properties of the therapeutic for increased antibacterial effects. Hibbard expects to graduate Spring 2020 and hopes to work in research and development in the biomedical industry.