2018 Zweifach Student Travel Award Recipients

Ehsan Akbari – The Ohio State University

“The Effect of Sphingosine 1-Phosphate on Endothelial Permeability Is Fluid Flow Dependent"

I am currently a 4th year PhD candidate under supervision of Dr. Jonathan W. Song in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the Ohio State University. My main research endeavors involve the study of endothelial mechanotransduction under the effect of fluid forces that arise at vessel bifurcations and the downstream endothelial responses such as change in endothelial permeability and sprouting angiogenesis. The main methodology used is a microfluidic based in vitro model of vessel bifurcations. Moreover, the study of interendothelial force transduction is based on the development of novel DNA origami based tension sensors incorporated in the gap between neighboring endothelial cells to provide an spatiotemporal force readout. The findings of my thesis can enhance the understanding of the early phases of fluid mediated endothelial mechanotransduction at vessel bifurcations.

Mansoureh Barzegar – Louisiana State University of Health Science Shreveport

“Human Placental Stem Cell Therapy in Stroke: Endothelial / Smooth Muscle Mechanisms Underlying Protection”

The main focus of our project is on “Mechanistic bases of stem cell protection in ischemic injury”.Among all available stem cell lineages, human placenta-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hPMSCs) appear to have very many advantages, particularly their lack of immunogenicity (rejection), super-high abundance, super-low cost, ease of acquisition and lack of legal and ethical problems as well as non-tumorigenic properties. Understanding the cellular interactions, subsequent mechanisms and the most potential hPMSCs -derived mediator will provide important information to enable us to identify new targets and deliver novel therapeutic strategy for stroke in future.

Yen-Lin Chen- Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center

“Hyperglycemia Enhances Constriction of Retinal Venules to Endothelin-1 via Activation of the Reverse-Mode Sodium-Calcium Exchanger”

My research focuses on investigating the molecular mechanisms involved in the constriction of retinal venules to endothelin-1 under normal and diabetic conditions. The goal is to identify a new therapeutic strategy to mitigate diabetes-induced retinal tissue edema.


Stephanie Christianson – Augusta University

“ADAM17 via F11R/JAM-A Shedding Regulates Flow/Wall Shear Stress Mechanosensing in Endothelial Cells”

Under the mentorship of Dr. Zsolt Bagi , Stephanie Lynn’s research  examines the vascular endothelium and arterial remodeling  in the microcirculation in coronary microvascular dysfunction. Subsequently, this pertains to those in aging, obese, and/or Diabetes mellitus patient cohorts. Primarily, her work involves the study of adhesion protein complexes, such as JAM-A and PECAM-1, found in vascular endothelial cells (ECs). She studies both the mechanosensing and regulatory capacity of these adhesion proteins in response to changes in flow. Additionally, combining key chemical and biological methodologies, Stephanie Lynn studies the production of reactive oxygen species produced by ECs as well as human cerebral resistance arteries.

Sami Dodhy – Virginia Commonwealth University

“Changes in the PO2-dependence of oxygen consumption in the skeletal muscle of developing rats”

I have a background in biomedical engineering and physics and am currently finishing up my doctorate in cardiovascular physiology with a focus in microcirculation, hemodynamics, oxygen transport, and the effects of aging on skeletal muscle hemodynamics.

Charmain A. Fernando - University of Missouri  

“Recovery of Functional Vasodilation During Skeletal Muscle Regeneration”

My research is centered on evaluating the functional recovery of microvascular resistance networks in skeletal muscle during regeneration following injury. At key time points during recovery the microcirculation of the gluteus maximus muscle is studied using intravital microscopy to determine how well the small arteries and arterioles that control blood flow can change their diameters. The goal of this research is to understand the time course and extent of the recovery of microvascular perfusion and tissue oxygen delivery.  

David Hartmann – Medical University of South Carolina

“Optogenetic stimulation of pericytes lacking alpha smooth muscle actin produces a decrease in capillary blood flow in the living mouse brain “

If you uncoiled the vasculature in the human brain, and stretched it out end-to-end, it would be about 400 miles long. Pericytes are cells that live in the walls of blood vessels, and they touch every inch of this 400 miles. Do pericytes control the amount of blood that flows through this long stretch of vasculature? By manipulating pericytes and measuring blood flow in living mice, I am trying to answer this question. 

Alex Keller – University of Virginia

“Inducible Deletion of Endothelial Hba1Significantly Reduces Exercise Fitness in Mice”

Alex Keller is a PhD candidate in Dr. Brant Isakson's laboratory at the University of Virginia. Alex's research within the Isakson laboratory focuses on molecular mechanisms of blood flow regulation. He is particularly interested in studying the role of endothelial hemoglobin alpha in exercise-induced hyperemia.

Michaela Rikard – University of Virginia

“Agent Based Model of Endothelial Cell and Pericyte Interactions During Angiogenesis in the Germinal Matrix”

My research focuses on the development of computational models to study microvascular remodeling, with a particular interest in endothelial cell and pericyte interactions. One of the models I am currently developing is a model of diabetic wound healing, which can predict the optimal dose and timing of delivery for a pro-angiogenic therapeutic drug delivery.

Ariana Suarez-Martinez – University of Florida

“Induction of Microvascular Network Growth in the Mouse Mesentery”

My research interests include developing an ex vivo mouse model to investigate the multicellular dynamics in intact microvascular networks during angiogenesis, and investigating the underling causes and effects of altered angiogenesis in aged tissues.