Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2019
Home Department: Chemical Engineering
Faculty Advisors: Gerald Fuller (Chemical Engineering), Carolyn Bertozzi (Chemistry), and David Myung (Ophthalmology)

Research Title: Investigating the Altered Surface Properties of Mucin-Deficient Corneal Epithelium and Their Contributions to Dry Eye Disease

Research Description: Dry eye disease (DED) influences hundreds of millions of people across the world, but a clear pathology remains elusive. Altered ocular mucin (a protein found in mucus) concentration and glycosylation are observed in some DED patients, but the relationship between mucin dysfunction and DED is unclear. Here Chunzi will utilize a mucin-specific enzyme to induce mucin deficiency in stratified corneal epithelium, and study the epithelium’s their surface properties through a combination of surface science and rheology methods. The results can potentially illustrate the lubrication mechanism of mucins present at biological interfaces. Chunzi will also test and explore possible short-term treatments for DED, including the use of the mucin-like protein, lubricin, to potentially restore lubrication to the eye.


Chunzi is a NSF-Simons postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, studying the biophysical principles of morphogenesis under the advice of Professor Mahadevan.