Research Laboratories

Tulane's Department of Biomedical Engineering has a long history of performing a wide variety of research problems using traditional engineering expertise to analyze and solve problems in biology and medicine.

Research Domains

Biomechanics and Biotransport:  Anderson, Bull, Gaver, Khismatullin, Miller, Murfee

Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering:  Moore, Murfee

Biomedical Imaging and Bioinformatics:  Bayer, Brown, Wang

Research Laboratories

Biofluid Mechanics Laboratory (PI: Gaver) The Biofluid Mechanics Laboratory 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.

Biomechanics of Growth and Remodeling Laboratory (PI: Miller) 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).

Biomolecular and Functional Imaging Laboratory (PI: Bayer) The research in our 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 from functional and molecular imaging technologies.

Biotransport and Ultrasound Laboratory (PI: Bull)  Our lab's 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.

Cellular Biomechanics and Biotransport and Biomedical Acoustics Laboratory (PI: Khismatullin)  We conduct experimental and computational research in biomedical acoustics and biomechanics of circulating cells.  Our main interest is to understand how living cells, tissues and biological polymers respond to mechanical stresses induced by acoustic waves.  This research has several important biomedical applications, and our current focus is on development of ultrasound-based noninvasive or minimally invasive therapies for cancer, spinal cord injury and neurodegenerative diseases as well as the use of acoustic levitation for measurement of mechanical properties of biological materials. 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.

Microvascular Dynamics Laboratory (PI: Murfee) The overall goal of our laboratory is to better understand the cellular dynamics involved in adult microvascular remodeling.  We apply in vivo, in vitro, and computational bioengineering approaches to investigate the regulation of vascular patterning and the functional relationships between microvascular remodeling and other processes such as neurogenesis and lymphangiogenesis. In general, our work provides valuable insight for the engineering of functional vascularized tissues and for understanding vascular  dysfunction associated with multiple pathological conditions, including hypertension, tumor growth, and wound healing.

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 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.

Neural Microengineering Laboratory (PI: Moore)  The focus of our 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 integrated experimental and computational models of neural axon growth & guidance, biomimetric in vitro models of peripheral nerve physiology and pathology, models of brain synapse physiology, and design of multifunctional hydrogels.

Translational Biophotonics Laboratory (PI: Brown)  Research in our 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).


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