Josephine Allen, Ph.D.*
University of Florida
Materials Science and Engineering
Cell Engineering and Biomaterial Strategies for
The Allen lab has three main research thrusts in cellular engineering, biomaterials, and the study of dynamic environmental conditions. The focus of this seminar will be recent work in these three areas as it relates to cardiovascular disease and vascular tissue engineering. Our work in cellular engineering is motivated by the continued challenge to control cellular processes, including stem cell differentiation. Our labs approach is the development of receptor agonist in the form of nucleic acid aptamers. We have fabricated a novel divalent aptamer assembly that shows agonist function towards vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2, leading to downstream pathway activation. Our biomaterials work involves the creation of a biomimetic nanofibrous scaffold composed of an elastomeric polymer combined with collagen and elastin proteins. These biphasic scaffolds are biologically compatible, mechanically robust and compliant, and show great promise as a vascular scaffold. Lastly, our work to study vascular cells exposed to dynamic environments such as microgravity will be presented. There exists a correlation between microgravity and the onset of cardiovascular deconditioning, therefore, this work aims to utilize this extreme environment to study changes in vascular repair cells.
Host: Melissa Kemp, Ph.D.