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Department of Biomedical Engineering-Distinguished Lecture Series 2019/20

Monday, September 23, 2019 to Tuesday, April 28, 2020
4:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Floor/Room #: 

Distinguished Lecture Series in Biomedical Engineering

The Distinguished Lecture Series in Biomedical Engineering is designed to bring innovative leaders in the biomedical engineering field to the WPI campus to meet our outstanding faculty and students, and visit our interdisciplinary research facilities in the heart of Central Massachusetts.

Monday, September 23th

  • Monday, September 23, 2019
    4:00pm to 5:00pm

    BME Distinguished Lecture Series: “Refillable Polymers for Drug Delivery in Chronic and Recurrent Disease” by Horst Von Recum, PhD, Professor, Case Western Reserve University


    Horst Von Recum, PhD
    Professor, Executive Vice Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering
    President of Society for Biomaterials
    Case Western Reserve University

    Abstract: Controlled delivery of molecules has found its way into all walks of life from dishwasher detergent, to biomedical devices, to paint.  In biomedical applications controlled drug delivery is used to provide appropriate dosing of therapeutics to meet physiological need. For local drug delivery this also includes optimizing effects at the needed site, while bypassing some or all of the detrimental effects of systemic delivery. One of the major factors that researchers in this field have to work with is Fick’s First Law of Diffusion, namely that drug will follow a concentration gradient, which results in extremely rapid release in early time points follows by a longer period of much slower release. Often times this bi-phasic release is not sufficient to address the biomedical problem, leaving the investigator only limited capacity for adjustment of polymer properties to modify the Diffusivity term of Fick’s Law. The von Recum lab has been exploring the use of intentionally designed molecular interactions to add additional factors controlling the rate of drug release, namely adding a specific affinity between drug and polymer, making this interaction become the rate limiting step. This research field, termed “affinity-based drug delivery” is capable of reducing the burst phase and prolonging release from hours to days to months. In addition, such controlled delivery devices, once empty still maintain their molecular pockets, which can be refilled for additional therapeutic windows, and periods of delivery. In this work we will show applications ranging from device infection, cancer therapy, cardiovascular restenosis, and stem cell homing and proliferation in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Further we will show how such devices are capable of being refilled in vivo and demonstrate additional therapeutic windows. In closing we feel that the prolonged release, and refilling capacity of affinity-based drug delivery devices will open new fields of application previously not addressable by devices controlled by diffusion alone.


    Biography: Horst von Recum began his training in Chemical Engineering and in Biochemistry at Rice University, where he worked with Tony Mikos. For his PhD, Dr. von Recum attended the University of Utah where he studied under Sun Wan Kim on drug delivery and tissue engineering. Following that he had two different postdoctoral fellowships, first at MIT in Bob Langer’s lab, then at the University of Washington in Suzie Pun’s lab; studying stem cells and gene therapy. Since arriving at Case Western Reserve University in 2004, Dr. von Recum has been working on a range of projects delivering proteins and small molecule drugs for a number of therapeutic applications from tissue engineering, to cardiovascular disease to cancer.  He has over 40 peer-reviewed papers, including Biomaterials “Most Cited Article 2006-2010”, with over 3000 citations; as well as 6 book chapters, over 80 conference proceedings, and 50 invited presentations. He is Principal Investigator for multiple funded projects, including funding by the American Heart Association, NSF, and NIH;  where he has also been a regular reviewer. In 2017 he was the Chair for the Gordon Conference on Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering,  and in 2019 he became the President for the Society for Biomaterals.  He serves as an Associate Editor in Experimental Biology and Medicine, as well as on the board for 3 other journals. He was elected a Fellow to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2016.  In 2012 he and colleague Dr. Julius Korley founded Affinity Therapeutics, LLC to bring some of their basic science discoveries closer to commercial and clinical application.




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  • Monday, October 28, 2019
    4:00pm to 5:00pm

    BME Distinguished Lecture Series: “Impacts and Outcomes - Subconcussion in Youth Sports Measurement and Modeling" by Joel Stitzel, PhD, Professor and Chair, Wake Forest University School of Medicine


    Joel Stitzel, PhD

    Professor and Chair

    Department of Biomedical Engineering

    Wake Forest University School of Medicine


    Abstract: Subconcussive head impact exposure is certainly in the news these days, and certainly the subject of much scientific investigation.  It is probably nowhere more needed than in youth sports, the most underserved and also largest population of athletes in the US and worldwide.  This talk will discuss our experience in youth sports with multidisciplinary teams investigating subconcussive impact exposure – starting with youth football through NIH supported studies and expanding into other youth sports.  I will discuss how our interdisciplinary teams tackle the issue of imaging and biomechanics and the engineer’s role in that endeavor. I will share some of what we have done to tackle the development of metrics for measuring subconcussive impact exposure. Also will share a computational model of the brain we have developed to explore more deeply the issue of subconcussive impact exposure and correlation with medical imaging. Last I will discuss instrumentation we have developed to measure subconcussive impact exposure in non helmeted and other sports and its role going forward.

    Biography: Dr. Joel D. Stitzel, Ph. D. is professor and chair of Biomedical Engineering at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Program Leader of the Virginia Tech – Wake Forest Center for Injury Biomechanics.  His interests include human injury biomechanics, particularly computational modeling of the human body and the relationship between computational model-based metrics and criteria and real-world injury and disease.  He has a BS in Engineering Science and Mechanics, MS in Biomedical Engineering, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering. He has worked in Human Injury Biomechanics for 19 years.  He has been Co-PI of a Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN) Center at WFU for 14 years.  He was the founding PI of the Global Human Body Models Consortium (GHBMC) Integration Center, an organizer in a global endeavor to create an industry-standard virtual human model for injury prediction.  He and academic clinical collaborators have, with support from the NIH NINDS, instrumented youth sports teams and included medical imaging to better understand both the biomechanical basis of, and physiologic response to subconcussive head impacts.  His group has developed an in-mouth sensor for measurement of head impacts in helmeted and non-helmeted applications.  He works in the areas of automotive, sports, and military applications, medical device development and aerospace medicine. He and multidisciplinary teams of which he is a part have received support from industry and government sponsors including the DOT, NASA, NSF, CDC, DOD, and NIH. 

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  • Monday, March 02, 2020
    4:00pm to 5:00pm

    BME Distinguished Lecture Series: “New Concepts in Regulation and Bioengineered Therapies for Ectopic Calcification” by Cecilia Giachelli, PhD, Professor and Chair, University of Washington
    Cecilia Giachelli, PhD
    Professor and Chair
    Hunter and Dorothy Simpson
    Endowed Chair in Biomedical Engineering
    University of Washington
    Abstract: Ectopic calcification is the abnormal deposition of calcium salts (apatite) in soft tissues including valves, blood vessels, joints, muscle and the brain.  Typically a result of disease and aging, it is also a frequent complication of severe trauma, including spinal cord and brain injury, and a major mode of failure for bioprosthetic valves.  Normally, the body prevents ectopic calcification via systemic or locally–derived calcification inhibitory factors, such as osteopontin. In injury and disease, inhibitory processes are often deficient, leaving calcification inductive processes unopposed, and allowing mineral-formative processes to predominate.   Ameliorating anticalcific factor deficiency and/or promoting mineral resorption will be discussed as potential strategies to treat and potentially regress ectopic calcification.
    Biography: Dr. Giachelli received a BS in Biochemistry from UC Davis and PhD in Pharmacology from the University of Washington, where she is currently Professor of Bioengineering and Adjunct Professor of Pathology and Oral Health Sciences.  Dr. Giachelli is internationally recognized for her work investigating the molecular mechanisms of ectopic calcification and extracellular matrix control of cell function. Her studies have led to the discovery of key inducers and inhibitors that contribute to ectopic calcification in the setting of chronic kidney disease, valve disease, atherosclerosis and medical devices.  These discoveries are currently being translated to therapeutic strategies to block inappropriate calcification in disease and biomaterials development. Other key areas of research include control of inflammation and foreign body reaction, regenerative medicine, cell and tissue engineering. Dr. Giachelli is an elected fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and the Washington State Academy of Sciences, and recipient of the American Heart Association Established Investigator Award, the Advances in Mineral Metabolism Investigator Award, the American Society of Nephrology’s Jack W. Coburn Lectureship, and Society for Vascular Surgery’s Alexander W. Clowes Distinguished Lectureship. 
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  • Monday, March 23, 2020
    3:00pm to 4:00pm

    "CANCELLED" - BME Distinguished Lecture Series: “Biophysically Faithful Biomaterial Platforms for Cardiovascular and Intestinal Mechanobiology” by Jane Grande-Allen, PhD, Professor, Rice University


    Jane Grande-Allen, PhD
    Professor and Chair
    Department of Biomedical Engineering
    Rice University


    Abstract: The material behavior of many biological tissues is due to their unique microstructural arrangements of fibrous extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, i.e., collagen and elastin, within the more amorphous matrix. The orientation of these fibers, and their segregation into discrete regions within the tissues, often gives rise to anisotropy and unique biological stress-strain behavior that enables the essential function of the tissues. Layered or segregated structuring allow hierarchical tissue organization in a manner designed to withstand external forces efficiently while protecting more delicate tissues and cells from damage. These structure-function relationships within biological tissues have been studied for decades but have not been widely translated into the creation of biomimetic scaffolds for use in tissue engineering and in vitro analyses of cell and tissue biology. The Grande-Allen research group has focused on integrating these structural and material characteristics into hydrogel and fibrous biomaterials using a range of fabrication techniques including molding, photolithography, electrospinning, and 3D printing. The majority of our investigations have addressed heart valve disease, which is widely prevalent in our society, with valve replacement or repair in almost 100,000 people in the United States and 275,000 people worldwide each year. More recently, we have translated our fabrication strategies to generate biomaterial platforms for investigating intestinal epithelial cell biology and enteric diseases.

    BiographyDr. Jane Grande-Allen is the Isabel Cameron Professor and Chair of the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University.  Her research group investigates the structure-function-environment relationship of soft connective tissues through bioengineering analyses of the extracellular matrix and cell mechanobiology, with a focus on cardiovascular and intestinal diseases. Their goal in characterizing the mechanisms of remodeling is to derive novel therapies that can be used to treat patients earlier in the disease process.  Her research has been funded by NIH, NSF, Pfizer, the American Heart Association, the Whitaker Foundation, and the March of Dimes, and is described in more than 130 peer-reviewed publications.  Dr. Grande-Allen received a BA in Mathematics and Biology from Transylvania University in 1991 and a PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Washington in 1998.  After performing postdoctoral research in Biomedical Engineering at the Cleveland Clinic, she joined Rice University in 2003 and was promoted to full professor in 2013.  Dr. Grande-Allen is a Fellow of the American Institute of Biological and Medical Engineering, the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Society for Experimental Mechanics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Heart Association. From 2009-2018, she served the on the Board of Directors and the Executive Board of the Biomedical Engineering Society. Dr. Grande-Allen is currently a Deputy Editor of Annals of Biomedical Engineering and serves on the science advisory committee for the American Heart Association.

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Wednesday, April 01th

  • Wednesday, April 01, 2020
    5:00pm to 8:00pm

    *CANCELLED* - Sotak Lecture in BME: Ronke Olabisi, PhD, Assistant Professor, Samueli Development Chair, University of California, Irvine


    LECTURE 5 – 6pm / RECEPTION 6 - 8pm


    Cells as Biofactories:  Exploiting Cell Therapies

    for Tissue Engineering and Wound Healing



    Ronke Olabisi, PhD

    Samueli Development Chair
    Assistant Professor
    University of California, Irvine
    The Department of Biomedical Engineering at WPI cordially invites colleagues, alumni, students, families and friends to the Christopher Sotak Lecture in Biomedical Engineering.
    This annual event perpetuates Chris’s passionate commitment to supporting and promoting innovative scholarship and research efforts in the field of bioengineering.


    Prof. Christopher Sotak
    1951 - 2011

    Our lecture will be given by Ronke Olabisi, Assistant Professor at UC Irvine in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She is also a member of 100YSS and a committee member on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s study session: Promising Practices for Addressing the Underrepresentation of Women in STEM. Dr. Olabisi’s research interests encompass biomechanics, biomaterials, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine to repair or build de novo tissues for treating defects due to injury, disease, aging, or spaceflight. Specifically, her approach is through the development of biosynthetic materials, which combine the best aspects of synthetic and biological materials to attain reproducible biomaterials that can drive or direct cell and tissue function. Dr. Olabisi is the recipient of the Frontiers in Bioengineering Best Poster Award (2014), the Charles and Johanna Busch Memorial Grant Award (2014), an Engineering Information Foundation Award (2016), the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2018), the TechAdvance Commercializing Innovative Technologies Award (2018), The Johnson and Johnson Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing and Design (WiSTEM2D) Award (2019), and the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Young Innovators in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (2019). Dr. Olabisi's research on the symbiotic relationship between coencapsulated cells has laid the groundwork for improving the outcomes of cell-based therapies, which have yet to achieve their potential. Dr. Olabisi's research group is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Engineering Information Foundation, TechAdvance, Johnson & Johnson, Condé Nast, and several other foundations and agencies.

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