Puetzer Lab hooded their first PhD student! Saagar graduated with his BS in BME after spending 3 years working in the lab and Ethan was officially hooded this past weekend! We are sad to see them go, but excited to see what they get up to in the future. Saagar will be going to UVA for Med. School and Ethan is currently working as a Senior Scientist at PPD, the Clinical Research Group of Thermo Fisher Scientific.
We are excited to share that we received a 5 year NIH R01 from NIAMS to explore the mechanotransduction pathways that regulate hierarchical collagen fiber formation!!!
Collagen fibers are the primary source of strength and function in tissue throughout the body, particularly in tendons, ligaments, and menisci. Cells organize these fibers hierarchically, assembling them from nm-wide fibrils, into larger fibers and fascicles, growing in size and strength with increasing mechanical demand. Injuries disrupt this organization, resulting in loss of function, pain, and decreased mobility. Unfortunately, these collagen fibers do not regenerate after injury, nor in engineered replacements, creating a lack of repair options for torn tendons, ligaments, and menisci. Our long-term goal is to understand how cells regulate this fiber formation so to engineer functional replacements and drive repair in vivo after injury. As a step toward this goal, this grant will explore how mechanical cues transmitted via cellular contraction and stretch-activated ion channels regulate ligament fibroblast's development of hierarchical fibers. In particularly, we will be exploring how cellular sensing via FAK, TRPV4, and Piezo1 regulate tissue maturation at the fibril, fiber, and fascicle length-scale. Special thanks to the students that have made this grant possible with all their excellent preliminary work and our collaborators, Drs. Rene Olivares-Navarrete and Hank Donahue!
Reem did a fantastic job today presenting her work on developing fluorescent high density collagen gels for tracking cellular turnover of collagen in extended tissue culture at the VCU Undergraduate Research Symposium!!! Way to go Reem!
Congratulations to current Puetzer Lab PhD student Leia Troop and former lab undergraduate Madison Bates for being awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships!! The NSF GRFP awards exceptional graduate students with 3 years stipend and tuition coverage to advance their studies in STEM-based disciplines. Leia will be continuing her research evaluating how cyclic tensile loading drives hierarchical fiber maturation and LOX crosslinking in engineered ligaments. Madison is currently a PhD student at Vanderbilt University in Dr. Cynthia Reinhart-King's lab. Congrats Leia and Madison!!!
Another great ORS Meeting for the books!!! Puetzer Lab had a great time at ORS in Dallas, Texas. Everyone did great on presenting their work and we returned home with lots of new ideas & rejuvenated from catching up with all our friends!!
Austin successfully passed his proposal exam today, making him officially a PhD. Candidate!!! Congratulations Austin!! His thesis work is on unraveling the multi-scale role of Advanced Glycation End-Products in Aging Musculoskeletal Tissues.