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Research Laboratories

Tulane’s Department of Biomedical Engineering has a long history of studying a wide variety of research problems using traditional engineering expertise to analyze and solve problems in biology and medicine. Our program has expertise in the following biomedical engineering domains.

Research Areas of Interest

Biomaterials:  Drs. Mondrinos and Moore

Biomechanics:  Drs. Anderson, Dancisak, Gaver, and Khismatullin

Biosignals and Bioimaging:  Drs. Bayer, Brown, Khismatullin, and Wang

Biotransport: Drs. Gaver, Khismatullin and Mondrinos

Cell and Tissue Engineering:  Drs. Gaver, Khismatullin, Mondrinos and Moore

Design:  Drs. Anderson, Bayer, Dancisak, Mondrinos, and Moore

Research Laboratories

Biofluid Mechanics Laboratory (PI: Gaver)

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 microfluidiic 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.

Biomedical Acoustics and Cellular Biomechanics & Biotransport Laboratory (PI: Khismatullin)

In the Biomedical Acoustics Laboratory investigates how living cells, tissues and biological polymers respond to high-frequency acoustic waves(ultrasound). 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 technology for drop-of-bloodcoagulationanalysis and infectious diseasetesting. The Cellular Biomechanics & Biotransport Laboratorystudies vulnerableplaque developmentby means ofpatient-specific modeling ofblood flow in atheroscleroticvesselsand investigatesthebiomechanics of blood and circulating tumor cellsby using state-of-the-art computational models and endothelializedmicrofluidic systems.

Biomolecular and Functional Imaging Laboratory (PI: Bayer)

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 keyinformation 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 technology is the functional and molecular environment during compromised pregnancies such as preeclampsia. We search for new methods to treat these conditions through the knowledge gained through our functional and molecular imaging technologies.

Microphysiological Systems Laboratory (PI: Mondrinos)

The Tissue Engineering and Microphysiological Systems (TEMPS) lab is an interdisciplinary team of engineers and scientists working to developintegrated systems for modeling pathophysiology in vitro. One area of focus is tissue engineering models of solid organ carcinoma microenvironments that capture the interactions of tumor cells, stroma, and vasculature. We emphasize establishing a baseline of homeostasis in the absence of cancer for metrics such as vascular inflammation and permeability, fibroblast activation states, and ECM synthesis. Engineered tumor tissues are integrated with healthy tissue niches to study premetastatic niche (PMN) cultivation. We work with cancer biologists and oncologists at the Tulane Cancer Center to obtain patient biopsies of cancers including breast and lung carcinoma subtypes and create models for closer examination of responses todrugs with ambiguous clinical outcomes and novel candidate therapeutics. A key area of focus is engineering carcinoma models with the density and internal architecture seen in vivo to accurately model the difficulties of delivering macromolecular therapeutics and cellular immunotherapies to solid organ carcinomas. Additional projects include modeling drug resistance,screening the anti-cancer effects of phytochemicals and other micronutrients in our model systems, and developing biological sex- and hormone-matchedmodels to more accurately model human physiology and disease.

Multiscale Bioimaging and Bioinformatics Laboratory (PI: Wang)

The Multiscale Bioimaging and Bioinformatics Laboratory at Tulane University has three research themes:

  1. Fundamental research on multiscale signal/image representation and analysis;
  2. Multiscale bioimaging analysis from organ and tissue levels to molecular and cellular levels; and
  3. Bioinfomatics in human genomics.

Currently, we are focusing 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 goal is to bring the biomedical technique into commercial use. We are using a multidisciplinary approach and working closely with computational scientists, biostatisticians, medical geneticists, clinicians and industrial engineers at Tulane and all over the world.

Neural Microengineering Laboratory (PI: Moore)

The focus of the Neural Microengineering Laboratory is to develop in vitro models of neural growth, physiology, and disease by manipulating the chemical and physical extracellular microenvironment. Toward this end, we employ a number of microengineering technologies such as microscale tissue engineering, novel nanomaterials, microfabrication, digital light projection microcopy, and optical modes of electrophysiological stimulation and recording.Projects include a “nerve-on-a-chip” for drug development,neural axon growth & guidance, biomimeticin vitro models of inflammatory demyelinating disorders, and models of afferent sensory synaptic transmission.

Translational Biophotonics Laboratory (PI: Brown)

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 interdisciplinarycollaborators. A major theme in this work is the use of novelimaging devices (and computational analysis tools) to improve patient outcomes in surgical tumor removal in organs such as the breast, prostate, and kidney. To achieve these goals, we leverage new and existing technologies across multiple spatial scales such as quantitative diffuse reflectance spectroscopy and imaging (DRS, DRI), fluorescence lifetime imaging, structured-illumination microscopy (SIM), and light sheet microscopy (LSM).Ongoing and emerging projects include a strong focus on computational sciences and human-machine interaction in microscopy.