2022 MCS Election Candidate Profiles

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Nominees for President-Elect

Pooneh Bagher

Research Interests: Regulation of blood flow is required to maintain tissue perfusion throughout the body in proportion to metabolic demand. Resistance arterioles, comprised of vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs), endothelial cells (ECs) and perivascular nerves (PVNs), are the primary site of regulation, with subtle changes in diameter resulting in significant alterations in flow. The main goal of my laboratory is examining the subtle interplay between ECs, SMCs and PVNs using a range of in vivo and in vitro techniques in normal and disease states. We have a particular interest in calcium imaging in the various cells that comprise the arteriolar wall, as calcium is a key second messenger involved in numerous blood flow regulating mechanisms. In addition, we have recently become involved in a number of studies examining the influence of spaceflight on vascular function!

My Association with MCS: I officially joined the MCS as a postdoctoral fellow ~14 years ago, and have benefited from the wonderful opportunities the society has provided ever since. The truth is, as I have developed scientifically, I have found a home in the MCS and have dedicated my time in the last ~5 years to initiatives that continue to help expand the society. As a council member (2017-2018) and chair of the Ad-hoc fundraising committee, I have helped secure funding that continues to help the society and support trainees. As the Secretary of the society (2019-2021), I initiated the “Featured Lab of the Month” that helped put a spotlight on the amazing work done by our members. I have benefited tremendously from the wonderful colleagues and friends I have across the MCS. I hope that I can further contribute to the society so that it can continue to benefit members of all stages in the future. 

What I plan to do if elected to the position of MCS President: I am interested in running for President as I think that as a society we are in a period of transition, in particular with the format of our future annual meetings. I think that I have the leadership skills that are required to ensure that we continue to thrive for years to come. I look forward to listening to and working for the members of the society to provide opportunities for our members to continue to grow and succeed. Above all, I value and care about the society and what it can do for you and the future of microvascular physiology. A vote for me is a vote for you!

Andreas Beyer

Research Interests: Telomerase biology, Microvascular function, Mitochondrial biology, Reactive Oxygen species, Coronary Artery Disease, Cardiac Oncology.

Personal Statement: I have a passion for science that is driven by a general curiosity; excitement to develop new ideas and an extreme joy of collaborating with scientist at all levels. No matter the level of education everyone has something to contribute to the team sports that is science we work on every day. My training in genetics was followed by two post-doctoral fellowships in vascular physiology. The limited understanding of microvascular (dys)function in clinical settings continues to be the focus of my research. Human microvascular function, especially the coronary microcirculation, is not always recapitulated by pre-clinical models. We are one of the few groups of investigators in the country to study human coronary microvascular function in health and disease on a mechanistic level. Given the need to further understand the physiological and pathological pathways that regulate human microvascular function my lab fully embraces translation vascular research from cell culture and rodent models to patients and populations. I am deeply interested in answering pressing clinically relevant questions to improve patients long term health form the perspective of a vascular physiologist.  

Future of Microcirculatory Society: The Microcirculatory Society (MCS) and the APS have been my scientific home for over two decades now. MCS has offered me enormous opportunities: I was a recipient of the outstanding young investigator travel award; a member of the Programs and Meetings Committee; a sessions chair at several annual meetings and had the fortune to serve on the council of the society. These opportunities have allowed me to build valuable scientific connections and partnerships that have significantly furthered my research career/program development.

If elected as president of the MCS I will concentrate my efforts to accomplish three major goals a) to foster increased involvement of physician scientists by promoting translational research that highlights the need for explorations of key clinical issues in order to raise the clinical value and appreciation of microvascular disease. b) secure a spot of MCS on the landscape of premier meetings in vascular biology by reshaping our annual meeting, strengthen existing partnerships and explore new opportunities that fits the needs of our members.to c) increase to provide a supportive environment for our trainees and involve graduate students and post docs into programming, society committees and formal mentorship agreements.

My work and interaction with society members over the last 10+ years has solidified my commitment to contribute to the future of the MCS, advance MCS`s mission, and enhance career development of young microvascular researchers. Trainees are the future out our society involving them early and channeling their excitement and passion for microvascular not only promotes their own career goals but also strengthens MCS. To maintain and improve on the current level of excellence in research and career development of young microvascular researchers it is of critical importance to establish and improve to interaction and collaboration with other key scientific societies. As such my goal is to find new ways to get graduate students and post docs involved in society activities including but not limited to contributions to programing decisions (e.g., trainee led microvascular exchange), and closely working with senior members of the society to expand their scientific network. I have mentored over 30 trainees ranging from high school students to junior faculty and maintain an active relationship with the majority of them. Most of my trainees were supported by external funding and to my knowledge all remain active in biomedical research.

I hope to establish new partnerships with both national and international societies that are at the forefront of vascular research to accomplish the goal of bringing the members of MCS to an outstanding annual meeting that is both an enrichment to their daily science and that helps build and maintain professional connections and friendships.

 

Nominees for Treasurer

John Chappell

I received my bachelors in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia in 2001, but minoring in biomedical engineering. Volunteering in the labs of Drs. Klaus Ley and Richard Price ignited my passion for biomedical research and blood vessels. I completed my Masters (2005) and Doctoral (2007) work in the lab of Dr. Richard Price at the University of Virginia, finding vascular biology and the microcirculation where I wanted to devote my career.  This intrigue with the blood vasculature and its capacity to remodel led me to a postdoctoral fellowship in the lab of Dr. Victoria Bautch at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I studied sprouting angiogenesis and the role of Flt-1 in regulating VEGF-A signaling (2007-2012). I pursued a second postdoctoral fellowship with support from an NIH K99/R00 Award (2012-2014), receiving additional training from Drs. Christer Betsholtz, Shayn Peirce-Cottler, and Feilim Mac Gabhann in pericyte biology and computational modeling of cellular and molecular interactions.  I started my own lab in 2014 at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech-Carilion (FBRI-VTC, Roanoke, VA) with a primary appointment in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA). 

            My lab’s focus is primarily on microvascular pericytes -- their origins and potential roles during vasculogenesis, their mechanistic involvement with sprouting angiogenesis, and their contributions to capillary stability and function in health and clinical conditions such as stroke.

            I have been a member of the Microcirculatory Society (MCS) since 2006. More recently, I served a 2-year term on the MCS Council (2018-2020). I am currently the MCS Treasurer, and I also serve on the MCS Awards Committee. My lab has had representation at numerous MCS Meetings including the Annual Meetings in conjunction with APS/Experimental Biology as well as the Vascular Biology meeting held in collaboration with the North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO). 

            If re-elected as Treasurer, I would continue efforts in maintaining the practices of previous MCS treasurers, while looking to make improvements where helpful.  I would continue to support the MCS President and Council in handling financial transactions with members as well as donors and other professional entities. The MCS Leadership has recently taken steps to improve the overall finances of the Society, and I would continue to support those efforts, ensuring revenue and expenses stay at sustainable levels.

Charles Thodeti

Dr. Charles Thodeti is a Professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Toledo. He obtained Ph.D. in Zoology (Physiology and Biochemistry) from S.V. University, India. He did post-doctoral training at Lund University, Sweden and later held a research faculty position at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He then moved to Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital as an Instructor/Staff Scientist. Before joining University of Toledo, Dr. Thodeti was a tenured Associate professor at Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED). His laboratory (laboratory of Cardiovascular Mechanobiology and Therapeutics) works on mechanotransduction mechanisms in angiogenesis (coronary, tumor and retinal) and cardiac remodeling (cardiac fibrosis and heart failure) with a focus on mechanosensitive ion channel, TRPV4. His work has been supported by NIH (RO1s and R15), and AHA (SDG, GIA and TPA). He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed articles in the fields of cardiovascular physiology and cell biology. He serve(d)s as an editorial board member for Circulation Research, Microcirculation, American Journal of Physiology Heart and Circulatory Physiology, Scientific Reports, Cells (MDPI) and Frontiers in Cardiovascular Medicine, and as a reviewer for more than 30 top-tier journals. Dr. Thodeti has been serving as study section member for AHA and NIH.

Dr. Thodeti has been a member of Microcirculatory Society since, 2016. He has been serving the society as member of membership Committee from the past 5 years (2018-present). Currently, he is serving on the editorial board of Microcirculation. He attends Microcirculatory Society meetings at EB, regularly since 2018 and his trainees have been selected for The Pappenheimer post-doctoral (2018 and 2019) and Zweifach Student Travel (2020) awards. Dr. Thodeti also organized/Chaired a Mini symposium on Mechanical Signaling in Angiogenesis, at 11th World Congress for Microcirculation: Sep 2018, Vancouver, Canada.

Dr. Thodeti has served in leadership roles in many committees at national level (APS CV section, AHA and Microcirculatory Society) and he is currently the president of Association of Scientists of Indian origin In America (ASIOA). He would like to have an opportunity to serve Microcirculatory Society as a treasurer. Having worked in different roles at different organizations (including fund raising), I will bring vast and diverse experience to the society to help the leadership to secure more funds, maintain and manage current finances with a goal of sustainable financial stability for the future.

 

Nominees for Councilor

Sanjukta Chakraborty

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Physiology, College of Medicine at  Texas A&M University Health Science Center, College Station, Texas. I received my Ph.D. in cancer genetics from the Indian Institute of Science, India and completed my training as an American Heart Association Postdoctoral fellow in Lymphatic Biology at Texas A&M Health Science Center. My research program is currently focused on inflammation mediated alterations in lymphatic structure and function and how that contributes to metabolic diseases and cancer metastasis. My research is currently funded by an American Heart Association Career Development Grant and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. I have received several scientific awards including the Microcirculatory Society Award for Excellence in Lymphatic Research, Outstanding reviewer award and in 2020 was nominated as a protégé to the Texas Academy of Medicine, Engineering, Science & Technology (TAMEST).

Association with MCS: I have been closely associated with the Microcirculatory Society for the past 15 years, initially as a postdoctoral trainee and now as an independent investigator. I received the Pappenheimer postdoctoral travel award that enabled me to actively participate in the MCS annual meeting, chair a trainee-led-symposium and also give invited presentations. Currently, my trainees have also benefitted from the travel awards. I am also very grateful to the society for the MCS Travel award for Outstanding Investigator, that has been an invaluable asset to me as a new Assistant Professor, when I was setting up my own lab. This award has been integral in expanding my professional network both nationally and internationally, while also enabling me to learn new technical skill sets. I have recently served as the chair of the MCS Nomination Committee (2018-2021) and am also a member of the Liaison Committee.

What I plan to do if elected: MCS has played a critical role in my journey towards an independent career and has helped me grow scientifically while widening my professional network. The current times are extremely challenging and it is more important now than ever to be part of a close-knit high impact scientific society. I am a big proponent of empowering trainees and junior investigators that MCS is deeply invested in. As councilor, I would like to further i) strengthen trainee led initiatives, ii) broaden the ties of the society with both national and international partners to attain further sustainability for the society iii) promote mentoring and interaction between junior and senior faculty through cross-collaborative MCS events  and iii) increase overall visibility and membership. I am grateful to be able to have a scientific home like MCS and will be honored to have an opportunity to give back to a society that has carved my research career.

Julie Freed

Research Interests: My overall research goal is to determine mechanisms that regulate vascular reactivity in the human microcirculation during both health and disease. It is becoming clear that microvascular health is a strong predictor of cardiovascular outcomes, both within the coronary and peripheral vascular beds. Utilizing a strategy that allows for dissection of human resistance arterioles from discarded surgical specimens, these studies are performed both by using an in vitro approach, as well as studies done in human subjects. In particular, my laboratory is interested in how sphingolipids, bioactive lipids that have proven to be critical in vascular signaling, promote or prevent endothelial dysfunction, the precursor to cardiovascular disease. We have shown that  pathological levels of ceramide, a sphingolipid known to be increased in patients with coronary artery disease, promotes endothelial dysfunction in human microvessels, whereas sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) restores nitric oxide signaling during FID in vessels from patients with disease. These findings are translatable to many different types of cardiovascular disease including coronary artery disease (CAD), heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFpEF), chemotherapy-induced cardiac/vascular dysfunction, as well as the increased risk of cardiovascular disease that occurs as women transition through menopause. As a cardiac anesthesiologist I devote 20% of my time (1 day per week) to caring for patients suffering from heart disease. My clinical time is a weekly reminder of the devastating effects of cardiovascular disease and drives my motivation to discover new strategies to mitigate or prevent it.

Association with the Microcirculatory Society (MCS): I first became a member of MCS as a graduate student in 2006. I had first learned of MCS from my PhD advisor, Dr. Andrew Greene. I have continued on as a member and have since been more involved with the society. I serve as an ad hoc reviewer for Microcirculation, have given invited presentations at the annual MCS meeting (most current was 2021, virtual), and was thrilled to have my laboratory chosen as the MCS featured lab in February 2020. In 2019 I was selected to serve on the MCS Translational Microvascular Research ad hoc committee chaired by Fong Lam and Asher Mendelson.

Plans if elected to MCS Council: Evidence continues to mount regarding the importance of the microvasculature in the prevention and promotion of many diseases. If elected to MCS Council I would concentrate my efforts in three key areas; 1) ensuring that the best science is acknowledged and presented at our annual meeting,  2) foster networking between trainees, junior investigators, and senior established scientists to promote both mentorship and collaboration, and 3) increase the visibility of MCS to both basic science and clinical societies to boost membership and strengthen the ties between basic discovery, translational research, and future therapies that target the human microcirculation.  

Joseph Rutkowski

The MCS and its members have supported me throughout my career leading to scientific success and personal friendships. I began attending annual meetings of the MCS many years ago (2005) as a doctoral student and I was struck by the comradery of the meeting and was impressed by the kind support offered by MCS to my mentor – a junior faculty at the time – and myself, one of her trainees. Having been to many meetings of many disciplines since, that feeling of community, inclusion, and support by the MCS remains. I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical Physiology at Texas A&M University College of Medicine. My lab studies how lymphatic capillary biology and physiology impacts the pathophysiology of chronic inflammatory diseases including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease. As a junior faculty, I am excited to introduce my trainees to the MCS community and its research. I currently serve on the Communication Committee, but hope to support the mission of the MCS much more so as a Councilor. I would like to support the goals of (1) expanding awareness and membership, (2) recruiting and supporting microcirculation trainees and (3) career and mentoring support for junior faculty. Increasing interest among trainees and faculty mentoring in turn supports senior faculty, expands networks, and increases membership interest. This is an exciting time for our field, and I am proud to offer my time and effort to the Society.

Aaron Trask

Research Interests: The major research interests of The Trask Laboratory are centered around the cardiovascular complications of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), hypertension, and metabolic syndrome (MetS). We use a combination of in vivo, ex vivo, in vitro, and more recently, in silico approaches (including physiology, pharmacology, biomechanics, computational models, and machine learning) to address creative and innovative ideas surrounding the pathophysiology of coronary microvascular disease (CMD) and other diseases of perturbed blood flow. The ultimate goal of this work is to effectuate novel therapeutic targets of CMD, since it occurs earlier than coronary conduit disease.

My Association with MCS: I have been a member of MCS since 2013, during the time I was transitioning from a postdoc to junior faculty. I joined MCS after meeting several members and realizing the wealth of expertise directly germane to my area of research – the coronary microcirculation.  Since that time, I have come to lean on MCS and its membership for feedback on our science, and the society has become like a family to me. 

What I plan to do if elected to the position of MCS Council Member: MCS is at a critical juncture in its history, particularly as the Experimental Biology meeting comes to a close after April 2022.  Because conferences are a centerpiece to any scientific organization, navigating a new path forward for our exchange of ideas is paramount.  As has been capably navigated by Drs. Murfee, Breslin, and others, there are several viable options on the table that requires sound guidance in terms of planning and implementation.  In addition to my longstanding interest and expertise in the microcirculation, my experience serving on the APS conference committee during the start of the pandemic will help guide a new MCS meeting that will best serve our membership.

 

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