Tulane's Department of Biomedical Engineering has a long history of performing a wide variety of research using traditional engineering expertise to analyze and solve problems in biology and medicine.
Biomechanics and Biotransport: Anderson, Bull, Gaver, Khismatullin, Miller
Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering: Gaver, Mondrinos, Moore
Biomedical Imaging and Bioinformatics: Bayer, Brown, Bull, Wang
The Biofluid Mechanics Laboratory at Tulane University studies the interrelationships between fluid mechanical and physicochemical phenomena and the associated biological behavior of physiological systems. The main thrust of this research involves investigations of the pulmonary system, with the goal of developing improved therapies for pulmonary disease (ARDS) and the prevention of ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). In addition, we investigate the design of optimized microfluidic devices for biosensor technology. These integrated studies bring together basic and applied scientists (including computational scientists), device developers and physicians to study problems of high clinical importance.
The Biomechanics of Growth and Remodeling Laboratory uses a combined experimental and computational approach to better understand, describe, and predict the soft tissue remodeling in response to various biological and mechanical stimuli including normal processes (e.g., aging and pregnancy), disease and injury. To this end, our research utilizes model systems with varying restraints on regenerative capability (postnatal development, pregnancy, postpartum, and aging) as well as genetically modified animals. We utilize sophisticated mechanical testing techniques and computational growth and remodeling models to define local microstructure and mechanical properties of evolving collagenous tissues to identify potential treatments and the appropriate timecourse for clinical interventions to prevent maladaptive remodeling, improve adult response to injury, and advance tissue engineering strategies. Our primary areas of research include women's reproductive health and orthopaedics (tendon & ligament).
In the Biomedical Acoustics Laboratory, we investigate how living cells, tissues and biological polymers respond to mechanical stresses induced by acoustic waves. The current focus is on development of ultrasound-based noninvasive or minimally invasive therapies for cancer, spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative diseases as well as on the use of our patented acoustic tweezing method for low-volume non-contact blood coagulation analysis in pediatric and coagulopathic patients. In the Cellular Biomechanics & Biotransport Laboratory, using endothelium-lined microfluidic systems and state-of-the-art computational models, we also study the migration, deformation and adhesion of circulating cells under the conditions of cancer metastasis, inflammation and cardiovascular disease.
The research in our Biomolecular and Functional Imaging Laboratory develops novel medical imaging methods to study the dynamics of molecular expression and physiological function. Most existing medical imaging systems produce images of anatomical features. However, anatomical information alone is insufficient for optimal treatment of a disease condition. Imaging the physiological (functional) and biochemical (molecular) properties of the system could provide key information to halt disease progression and growth. In our work, we integrate ultrasound and contrast-enhanced photoacoustic imaging systems, including the development of algorithms for functional and molecular photoacoustic imaging and the evaluation of photoacoustic and ultrasound contrast agents. A key focus of our imaging technique is the functional and molecular environment during compromised pregnancies which lead to the development of birth defects. We search for new methods to treat these conditions through the knowledge gained through our functional and molecular imaging technologies.
The Biotransport and Ultrasound Laboratory research focuses on biofluid mechanics and ultrasound, including theoretical and computational modeling, and in vitro and in vivo experiments. Our work in gas embolotherapy is focused on developing this potential treatment for cancer and addressing related fundamental questions. Gas embolotherapy involves injecting perfluorocarbon liquid droplets into the bloodstream and then selectively vaporizing them to form gas bubbles that occlude blood flow and or deliver drugs to tumors. Diagnostic applications of selectively formed microbubbles are also of interest. Other work in our lab centers on the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems, related biomedical devices, and edema.
Our laboratory engineers biologically-inspired microphysiological systems and organoid-based models of human tissues and organs including the lungs, skeletal muscle and organ-specific interstitial tissues. We utilize confocal microscopy and rigorous biochemical analysis to study normal physiological functions and disease states in these models, with a strong emphasis on filling the translational gap to accelerate preclinical screening of novel therapeutic paradigms. Currently, we are working to build models of respiratory exposure injury (i.e. smoking, vaping, environmental exposures), inflammatory and fibrotic disorders of the interstitium in various organ contexts, and muscle tissue injury. An exciting area of focus is engineering multi-organ microfluidic models to study the systemic effects of malignancy (i.e. Cachexia) and screen palliative therapies that will improve quality of life in patients with incurable disease.
The Multiscale Bioimaging and Bioinformatics Laboratory at Tulane University has three research themes:
Currently, we are working on information extraction and integration from multiscale and multimodal genomic imaging data, with applications to the diagnosis of diseases and cancers such as mental disorders and osteoporosis. One of our goals is to bring the biomedical technique into commercial use. To this end, we are using a multidisciplinary approach and working closely with computational scientists, biostatisticians, medical geneticists, clinicians and industrial engineers at Tulane Medical Center and all over the world.
The focus of the Neural Microengineering Laboratory is to develop living, microscale models of neural tissue for the study of neurological disorders and as high-content screens for experimental drugs. Toward this end, we employ a number of microengineering technologies such as microscale tissue engineering, novel nanomaterials, microfabrication, digital light projection microscopy and optical modes of electrophysiological stimulation and recording. Projects include developing models of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy; human tissue models of demyelinating disorders, such as multiple sclerosis; and models for studying the effects of microgravity on the formation of myelin.
Research in the Translational Biophotonics Laboratory focuses on the application and clinical translation of quantitative optical spectroscopy and imaging tools for the improvement of cancer management. We develop translatable optical methods to directly address gaps in clinical care, and carry those through to clinical validation in humans alongside our interdisciplinary collaborators. A major theme in this work is the use of novel imaging devices (and computational analysis tools) to improve patient outcomes in surgical tumor removal in organs such as the breast, prostate, and kidney. We also develop tools and strategies using optics to answer interesting biological questions in cell and animal models. To achieve these goals, we leverage new and existing technologies across multiple spatial scales such as quantitative diffuse reflectance spectroscopy and imaging (DRS, DRI), florescence lifetime imaging, structured-illumination microscopy (SIM) and light sheet microscopy (LSM).