Researcher Spotlight

The goal of Dr. Alevriadou’s Vascular Mechanobiology laboratory is to better under­stand the molecular basis of cardiovascu­lar diseas­es, such as athero­scle­rosis, ische­mia/reperfusion injury, diabetes, etc. The group investigates the effects of the mecha­nochemical environment on vascular endothelial cell intracellular signaling, mi­tochon­drial func­tion, and survival. Despite progress made, heart attacks and strokes continue to be the leading causes of death globally. Knowledge gained from these studies may lead to discovery of new molec­ular targets for cardiovascular disease prevention and/or treatment.

Better imaging and better devices are key to improving the diagnosis and treatment of cerebral stroke. Dr. Ionita’s research focuses on these areas through the development of x-ray detectors for diagnostic and interventional neurovascular imaging, and the development and evaluation of endovascular devices.

Committed to developing safer, organic nanoparticles that will allow superior treatment options for cancer therapy, Dr. Lovell recently discovered a new class of nanoparticle, porphysomes, that accumulate in tumors and can be heated using a laser, causing complete tumor destruction. His innovative technique using optical-based therapeutics offer compelling advantages over other drugs; since light is required for activation, unparalleled control over treatment location is possible, while avoiding damage to other parts of the body.  

Tissue engineering has long held promise for building new organs to replace damaged body parts. Dr. Sarkar's research focuses on overcoming the challenging of growing cells and organizing them into 3-dimensional functional structures. His goal is to develop a synthetic matrix that better mimics the actual cellular matrices found in the body. Dr. Sarkar creates synthetic matrices from polymers which are uniquely designed to control cell behavior and their biological environment during tissue development.

Adapting electronics to function in, on and around the body to improve human health and well-being is the focus of Dr. Titus’ research. For example, the days of being blinded by glare from the sun, despite the $300 sunglasses straddling your face, may soon be over, thanks to research on creating a low-cost sensor that can rapidly detect glare.  His collaborations have produced state-of-the-art sunglasses that combine sensors and miniaturized electronics to identify and block bright glare. Dr. Titus’ research in the field of bioinstrumentation has led to work on improving x-ray detection through digital imaging, and to developing portable devices based on smartphone technology to monitor and better control diagnosed medical conditions.  

Nanoparticles can be used to fight cancer, but, uncontrolled in the environment, they can be a health risk. Dr. Yun Wu’s research span these areas to include developing engineered theranostics and multifunctional nanoparticles, as well as studying the toxicology of nanoparticles.

Seeing inside the body is of critical importance for diagnosing and treating disease. Dr. Xia is an expert in an emerging technique for generating high-resolution images from inside the body called photoacoustic computed tomography or PACT. By combining acoustic signals, basically ultrasound, with optical signals from lasers, this technique produces finer details about tissue structure than either method on its own. Dr. Xia is developing this technique to be able to improve cancer diagnosis and treatment, and to aid in neurological research.

Biomedical imaging is one of the most important enabling technologies in healthcare today. Imaging allows us to see objects, structures, and biological processes unreachable by human vision, providing tremendous opportunities to study biology, as well as diagnose and treat diseases. Dr. Ying’s lab is dedicated to applying advances in physics, mathematics, and engineering to the development of advanced imaging capabilities that enable “real-time” observation of biological structures and processes for better understanding and treatment of diseases. 

Magnetic resonance (MR) is a noninvasive, nonionic imaging modality in playing an important role in biomedical investigations and clinical diagnosis. It is capable of capturing not only anatomic structure but also cellular and molecular information in living systems. The pressing issue that MR imaging technology is currently facing is its long acquisition time and low sensitivity, consequently resulting in limited temporal resolution and spatial resolution. Parallel imaging, compressed sensing, deep learning, and high and ultrahigh field MR are promising MR methodologies, which are able to improve performance of conventional MR in temporal resolution and spatial resolution in vivo.

What can cell stiffness tell us about the health of tissues? Dr. Zhao’s research involves stressing tissues to better understand cell and tissue mechanics using novel magnetic microsystems, and the fabrication of biomaterials for tissue engineering.

Understanding what happens at the bone-implant interface can only develop better orthopaedic implants. Dr. Ehrensberger has developed a novel cell culture chamber that allows for simultaneous assessment of the interfacial electrochemistry and the behavior of bone-making cells cultured on electrically polarized titanium surfaces (the primary implant material). Dr. Ehrensberger develops test methodologies and innovative devices that provide new insight and clinically relevant solutions to current challenges in orthopaedic surgery.