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Past Events: 2012 BME Retreat


The 2012 BME retreat took place at the Craigville Retreat Center on Cape Cod, M.A. on September 14-15. More than 100 students, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students attended. Social activities at the conference site and nearby beach were held during the first day, followed by a scientific series of poster sessions and talks throughout the evening and the next morning. The event wrapped up the second day with lunch and an awards ceremony for best postdoc and graduate student poster presentations.

Ming Wang, a postdoctoral fellow from Professor Xu's lab, presented his research on combinatorial-designed cationic lipid-like materials to facilitate cytotoxic protein delivery. The materials he identified are able to deliver proteins into several cancer cell lines and a tumor-bearing mice xenograft, such results lead to the translation of protein therapeutics into anticancer drugs.

Alex Mitropoulos from Professor Omenetto's group presented work on the synthesis of silk nanospheres using a co-flow capillary device. In particular, he discussed the control of sphere diameter by changing the flow rate ratio between the two immiscible fluids and the concentration of silk solution.

Joseph Marturano, a PhD candidate in the Kuo Lab, presented research on elucidating physical cues that guide embryonic tendon development with which to inform tenogenic differentiation and tissue formation in vitro. The results provide insight into normal development of a mechanically functional tendon, and may have implications for stem cell-based tissue regeneration strategies for injured and diseased tendons.

Reynald Lescarbeau from Professor Kaplan's group talked about the methods he has developed to probe signaling pathways in cancer tissues. His focus was on prostate cancer and the utilization of phosphoprotein analysis to track the survival of prostate cancer cells in vitro to different treatments. The combination of tissue culture, phosphoproteomics, pathway analysis and modeling provides a tool kit useful in the predictive outcomes of complex drug treatments aimed at diseases.

Michael Polmear, a second year MS student in the Georgakoudi Lab, presented his work on the development of a novel method for detecting and potentially predicting the development and metastatic potential of breast cancer tumors in human patients. The method relies on the combined detection of circulating tumor and immune system cells and could result in an approach that can be implemented in a highly portable platform at a doctor's office and is relatively inexpensive and simple.

Lia Hocke presented her research that is part of a long-term collaboration between her research advisor (Blaise Frederick, McLean Hospital) and Sergio Fantini's group in the Tufts BME department. This research also involves an alum of Fantini's group, Yunjie Tong, who received his PhD from BME at Tufts in 2008. Lia presented co-registered data on the human brain with fMRI and near-infrared spectroscopy, showing temporal relationships between hemodynamics measured with the two approaches.

Berney Peng, representing the Optical Tweezers/Nonlinear Optics Lab directed by Professor Cronin-Golomb, presented an oral presentation on the use of optical tweezers for microscopic analysis of the mechanical properties of shear thinning materials with potential application to transdermal drug delivery.

Kelly Sullivan of the Black Lab presented an in vitro model describing the negative remodeling of necrotic myocardium following an infarction, which seeks to improve researchers' ability to develop/enhance therapeutic strategies for myocardial regeneration. The developed two-dimensional model describes how cardiac differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells is inhibited by factors (stiffness, composition and oxygen tension) present in the infarct microenvironment. A cell type with greater potential for cardiac differentiation (induced pluripotent stem cells) may be better suited for cell therapy applications which aim to repopulate the scar with contractile cells. Future work will seek to understand how the differentiation and maturation of iPS-derived cardiomyocytes may be inhibited by the infarct environment.