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.
Our department has particular expertise in the following biomedical engineering domains*:
Biofluid Mechanics The Biofluid Mechanics Laboratory (PI: Gaver) studies the interrelationships between fluid mechanical and physicochemical phenomena and the associated biological behavior of physiological systems. Currently, 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.
Biomaterials Our goals are to develop translational strategies for optic nerve regeneration by: 1) building in vitro models in which we can systematically alter the structural, molecular, and physiological microenvironments and study their effects on retinal axon regeneration; and 2) developing multifaceted treatment strategies to be tested with in vivo studies.
Biomechanics of Growth and Remodeling The Biomechanics of Growth and Remodeling Laboratory (PI: Miller) uses a combined experimental and computational approach to better understand, describe, and predict the dynamics of extracellular matrix remodeling in response to various biochemomechanical stimuli including normal processes (e.g., aging and pregnancy), disease and injury. The research utilizes model systems with varying restraints on regenerative capability (postnatal development, pregnancy, postpartum, and aging) to define the dynamics of structure-function homeostasis to prevent maladaptive remodeling, improve adult response to injury, and advance tissue engineering strategies.
Biomedical Functional Imaging The Biomedical Functional Imaging Laboratory (PI: Bayer) develops novel medical imaging methods to study the dynamics of molecular expression and physiological function. Integrating 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 is the functional and molecular environment during compromised pregnancies and the development of birth defects. This research searches for new methods to treat these conditions through the knowledge gained from functional and molecular imaging technologies.
Biotransport Processes The research in the Cellular Biomechanics and Biotransport laboratory (PI: Dr. Khismatullin) focuses upon development of computational algorithms and in vitro assays to assess molecular and cellular mechanisms of thrombosis, inflammation, and immune/inflammatory diseases such as allergy and atherosclerosis. Other areas of research include rheological characterization of biological materials, design of optimized polymeric and double emulsion drug delivery systems, and acoustic cavitation in living tissues with application to ultrasound imaging and cancer treatment. The projects in the laboratory involve collaboration with research groups at Tulane University and other institutions (Duke University, Boston University, the University of California-Los Angeles, the University of Hawaii at Honolulu, La Jolla Institute of Allergy and Immunology, Ochsner Medical Center, Lousiana State Univesity Health Science Center and the Center for Devices and Radiological Health of the Food & Drug Administration). The laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art microfluidic flow systems and instruments for live cell culture and imaging. Students have also access to the resources of the Center for Computational Science (CCS) at Tulane University and the Louisiana Optical Network Initiative (LONI) to conduct computational studies.
Cardiovascular Bioengineering The Murfee Laboratory applies in vivo, in vitro, and computational bioengineering approaches to better understand the regulation of vascular patterning and the functional relationships between microvascular remodeling and other processes such as neurogenesis, lymphangiogenesis and inflammation. Associated active areas of interest include perivascular cell dynamics, the influence of local hemodynamics, and the altered microvascular network patterns associated with hypertension. In general, our work will provide valuable insight for the engineering of functional vascularized tissues and for understanding vascular dysfunction associated with multiple pathological conditions, such as hypertension, tumor growth, and wound healing.
Design for Individuals with Disabilities Dr. Rice develops methods of measuring and interpreting physiologic variables. These include using lung sound transmission for noninvasive diagnosis of pulmonary disease and measuring and characterizing surgeon hand tremor and skill in laparoscopic surgery. Dr. Rice is also working on implantable devices such as a valve for regulating intraocular pressure and point of care technologies such as a therapeutic device for mucus clearance in cystic fibrosis. Some of these projects lead to student entries in national biomedical design contests (see example here).
Stem Cell Research The Taby Ahsan STEM Cell Laboratory focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Medicine to advance the positive impact of stem cells on public health. Ongoing stem cell research helps develop basic science models, in vitro diagnostic systems, methods for drug discovery, cell-based therapies, and cancer treatments. Our lab focuses on the effects of the physical microenvironment on stem cell fate utilizing engineered systems that control cellular configurations and apply mechanical forces. We take an interdisciplinary approach, working with basic scientists, engineers, and clinicians in both academia and industry, to answer questions and address issues in stem cell mechanobiology, stem cell bioprocessing, and tissue engineering.
*Definitions adapted from BMES (www.bmes.org)
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