Honors & News
September 26, 2016
Bentley Hunt and David Abplanap receive 2016 CMSR Symposium Distinguished Abstract Awards
Two Awad Lab graduate students, Bentley Hunt and David Abplanap, were selected to receive a CMSR Symposium Distinguished Abstract Award this year. This new award recognizes outstanding abstracts that were submitted for the 2016 poster session. Below are the winning abstracts for both students.
Critical-sized bone defects are the result of tumor resection or severe injury and require surgical intervention to regenerate the bone and salvage the limb. The current
gold standardto treat critical-sized defects is cadaveric allografts; however, these grafts have a 25% failure rate due to fibrotic non-unions and post-surgery fractures and if successful, the grafts only have a 5-10 year lifespan. These limitations have been attributed to the absence of an osteoinductive component and slow remodeling of the graft in vivo. The optimal standard of healing is an autograft due to the presence of the periosteum. This cortical bone lining tissue contains a depot of stem cells, osteoprogenitors, and a vascular network that act as the origin of angiogenesis and osteogenesis after fracture. It has been shown that live autografts without a periosteum result in a 10-fold decrease in neovascularization and 73% reduction in new bone formation compared to a complete autograft. Therefore, we hypothesize the delivery of a vascularized periosteum biomimetic will improve the regeneration of critical-sized bone defects. We have previously demonstrated the feasibility of delivering mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) sheets to treat a critical-sized mouse femoral defect, which enhanced osteogenesis of a devitalized allograft during repair. The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility and culture conditions for in vitro vascularization of a MSC sheet. We hypothesize that co-culturing MSCs and endothelial cells (ECs) in vitro can produce a premature vessel network within the MSC sheet to act as an origin of angiogenesis when implanted in vivo. MSCs and ECs were co-cultured for 5 days or 4 weeks while varying the percent O2 [5% & 21%], the percent ECs in co-culture [25%- 40%], and the seeding strategy [mixed, concurrent and lamellar]. After 5 days in culture, network formation could be seen in cultures under 21% O2, but there was limited network formation at 5% O2 while EC culture alone was not affected. After 4 weeks in culture, varying the percent endothelial cells from 25% to 40% did not significantly change the quantified capillary density, which was ~100 cm-1. A concurrent, mixed seeding strategy resulted in an increased capillary density and more branched morphology of the formed network as compared to a lamellar seeding strategy. Texas Red dextran staining surrounded by GFP+ expression indicated lumen formation in the co-culture system with lumen diameters ranging from 6 to 13 microns. Mouse derived co-cultures (mACD31+/C3H) produced a significantly increased capillary density compared to human derived co-cultures (HUVEC/hMSC) and surpassed the capillary densities seen in the periosteum of mouse tibia and calvarium. These data indicate that 21% O2, >25% ECs in co-culture, and a mixed seeding strategy produced optimized human and mouse vascularized cell sheets with branching, interconnected structures. These structures also show evidence of lumen formation in vitro. The vascularized mouse cell sheets also produce a capillary density surpassing that seen in the tibia and calvarium. All these factors support feasibility for pre-vascularizing a MSC sheet and its delivery for an early revascularization of critical sized defects. Moving forward, we plan to graft these vascularized cell sheets onto our 3D printed calcium phosphate scaffolds, which will be tested in vivo using an established mouse critical sized calvarial defect model. The current gold standard treatment for large bone defects is devitalized allografts, but allografts have a limited lifespan and often require multiple reconstructive surgeries. Delivery of pre-vascularized stem cell sheets could improve large defect regeneration through early revascularization and osteogenic induction, and ultimately provide a long-lasting surgical option.
Flexor tendon injuries are some of the most difficult insults to the hands for doctors to treat and restore to natural function. Following reparative surgery, the healing process is fraught with formation of debilitating tendon adhesions as well as increased likelihood of tendon rupture requiring another surgical intervention. Our lab studies the unique biology behind the healing process of the flexor tendon searching for ways in which we can manipulate this biology to achieve a more regenerative healing process. The MRL/MpJ (MRL) mouse strain has been widely studied as a potential mammalian model of regenerative-like healing and has shown promising results in an Achilles tendon defect model but the specific process allowing for this improved healing capacity is still unknown. Additionally, the degree of regenerative healing observed in these mice varies significantly between tissue types as well as methods of injury. We hypothesize that the MRL strain will demonstrate an improved healing response in our flexor tendon injury model, forming smaller adhesions and recovering more native tendon strength. Additionally, we propose that this improved functional outcome is a result of the different immunological response to injury in this strain compared to C57/Bl6 (C57). Age-matched (10 weeks) MRL and C57 mice were subjected to a bi-lateral partial laceration of the deep digital flexor tendon in the middle digit of the hind paws. Hind limbs were harvested for mechanical testing and histology at 2, 4, and 8 weeks following injury (along with Day 0 uninjured controls). Blood serum was extracted at Days 1, 3, 5, 7, and 14 following injury and subjected to inflammatory cytokine/chemokine, MMP, and TGF-β serum analysis panels respectively (along with Day 0 uninjured controls). In examining histology, we can clearly see an enhanced cellular response to injury (higher observed cell density and number) both in the injured tendon as well as surrounding tissue in C57 compared to a more localized response (seemingly tendon tissue specific) in MRL at 2-weeks. This enhanced level of cellularity in C57 is maintained through the 4-week timepoint and remains elevated at the 8-week end point in C57 whereas MRL shows significant reductions in hypercellularity by 4 weeks. At the end of the 8-week time course, MRL appears to exhibit less adhered tissue between tendon and the synovial sheath as well as more complete resolution of the initial insult to the tendon when compared to C57. Examining the blood serum, it appears that the C57 response to injury is more aggressive exhibiting higher up-regulation of hallmark inflammatory cytokines (IL-1, IL-6, IL-17, TNF-α) in both early (D1/D3) and late stages (D14) of the healing response compared to MRL. These results lead us to conclude that the MRL mouse does indeed exhibit a different healing response to flexor tendon injury than C57 and that this response results in an improved biomechanical outcome after injury. It also appears that the specific immune response to injury could in some way be contributing to this improved outcome and that the blunted inflammatory response observed in MRL could target a less fibrotic more regenerative healing pathway when compared to C57. These results motivate further study of the MRL mouse in this injury model to better understand their unique healing pathway while highlighting the inflammatory response as a potential source of the observed differences in healing response and overall quality of repair.
May 20, 2016
Sara Nowacki wins second place in University’s Falling Walls Competition
Sara Nowacki, a graduate student in the lab of Hani Awad, professor of biomedical engineering and of orthopaedics, won second place in the University of Rochester's Falling Walls Competition for describing how teriparatide, integrated into matrices, can improve cartilage regeneration.
Falling Walls Lab Rochester, is associated with The Falling Walls Foundation, a non-profit organization that fosters discussions on research and innovation and promotes the latest scientific findings to society. The Rochester winner's idea will compete with others from around the world at the Falling Walls Lab Finale in November in Berlin. This event selects the participants for the annual Falling Walls Conference the following day: an international forum for science and innovation to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. Speakers at the conference have included Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany; Nobel Prize winner Sir Paul Nurse; and young inventors from around the world. BBC London said it was where the
brightest minds on the planetmeet.
Last year's Falling Walls Lab Rochester winner, Ryan Trombetta, also a PhD student in Awad's lab, finished 12th (out off a 100 finalists worldwide) in the Berlin competition for his description of using 3D printed bone grafts to treat osteomyelitis. See his presentation here.
March 14, 2016
Awad and Berger Receive 2nd Percentile Score on Grant Supporting a New Method for Measuring Bone Fragility
In February, Hani Awad (Professor of BME) and Andrew Berger (Professor of Optics) received a percentile score of 2% (i.e. top 2%) on a multi-principal investigator R01 grant proposal entitled "Raman spectroscopic platform for transcutaneous monitoring of bone quality. Their proposed study will develop a noninvasive optical method of measuring bone fragility in arthritic and secondary osteoporosis preclinical models as they receive both anabolic and anti-resorptive medication that try to preserve bone health, which will be validated by biomechanical measures of bone strength and toughness. By providing a better way of tracking bone fragility in living subjects, this work will generate new understanding of how bone disorders develop and how medicines can treat them more effectively. The project Funding is expected to start in the Summer of 2016.
October 20, 2015
BME Professors Hani Awad and Danielle Benoit Receive $2 million NIH Grant
Hani Awad, Ph.D. (BME and Orthopaedics) and Danielle Benoit, Ph.D. (BME) have received a $2 million grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) for their project titled
Engineering Scarless Repair of Flexor Tendon Injuries.The goal of this 5-year multi-PI project is to advance the understanding of the mechanism of scar formation in flexor tendons of the hand, whose scar-mediated healing often leads to adhesions and loss of hand function. The project identifies a therapeutic target and maps out its mechanism of involvement in scar formation, and investigate the efficacy of a novel nanoparticle-mediated drug delivery approach to mitigate its effects in a preclinical model of flexor tendon repairs. Successful completion of this project, which elegantly integrates biology, biomechanics, and biomaterials, will have a profound impact on the field, especially since there are presently no pharmacologic or biologic treatments for the prevention or resolution of tendon adhesions.
May 29, 2015
The more severe a bone fracture, the higher the risk it will lead to osteomyelitis, an infection that occurs when bacteria contaminates damaged bones protruding from the skin or contaminates the fixation hardware used to realign them.
Osteomyelitis can lead to sepsis and, in extreme cases, amputation.
Current treatments require two surgeries. First, doctors remove the defective bone in a procedure called debridement and insert cement beads filled with antibiotics in an effort to eliminate any remaining bacteria. After a week or two, a second surgery is done to remove the beads and insert a bone graft to initiate healing.
And yet, even after all of this, notes Ryan Trombetta, the bacteria can still survive in a biofilm state that is resistant to antibiotics.
Trombetta, a PhD student in the lab of Hani Award, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, took first place at the University's recent Falling Walls competition, when he described how 3D printed bone grafts containing antibiotics and biofilm dispersing agents could not only eliminate all of the bacteria, but do so in a single step.
The advantage is that we can generate precise geometries off of a patient's CAT scan that can then be used to produce a biocompatible graft with 3D printing,Trombetta explained.
May 22, 2015
Bound for Berlin!
Ryan Trombetta, a second year BME doctoral student in Dr. Hani Awad's lab, took first place in the University's first Falling Walls Competition. In the Falling Walls Competition, competitors have three minutes and three slides to present their ideas about a new breakthrough idea or technology that will have broad societal impact. Ryan 's winning pitch described how 3D-printed bone grafts containing antibiotics and biofilm dispersal agents could simplify and improve the treatment of osteomyelitis, a bacterial bone infection that is a common complication of surgeries to repair bone fractures or replace joints. Having won our local competition, Ryan will represent the University at the international competition to be held in Berlin November 8th and 9th, the anniversary of the falling of the Berlin Wall.
For more details click here.
January 14, 2015
Department of Biomedical Engineering Professors Dr. Hani Awad and Dr. James McGrath were recently inducted as American Institute for Medical and Biological Engieering (AIMBE) Fellows for their significant contributions to the biomedical engineering community.
AIMBE's College of Fellows includes around 1,500 individuals who have made significant contributions to the medical and biological engineering community whether in academia, industry, or government and their contributions to research, industry practice, and education have transformed the world.
April 9, 2014
Three BME Students Awarded Whitaker Scholarships
Biomedical Engineering students Echoe Bouta, Jason Inzana, and Amanda Chen have been awarded a 2014-2015 Whitaker International Program Scholarship grant. Echoe is a PhD candidate from Professor Edward Schwarz's Lab and will be pursuing her post-doctoral training at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. Jason is a PhD candidate in Professor Hani Awad's Lab and will be pursuing his post-doctoral research at the AO Research Institute in Davos, Switzerland. Amanda is currently a senior working in Danielle Benoit's Lab and will be pursuing a Masters degree in Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge, working with Professor Nigel Slater.
Congratulations to all of you!
September 18, 2013
Jason Inzana and Dr. Hani Awad
A recent article in Hajim School of Engineering' and Applied Sciences' newsletter, The Full Spectrum, features examples of how tissue engineering research at the Biomedical Engineering Department, much of which is conducted in preclinical models to heal traumatic injuries, is bolstered by the work of BME faculty and graduate students in the laboratories of professors Awad, Benoit, and Buckley, capitalizing on close ties with the Center for Musculoskeletal Research.
As part of a consortium of research projects funded by AOTrauma, Dr. Hani Awad and his lab members are using new 3D printing technology to fabricate bone scaffolds made of biocompatible material to replace the original bone tissue lost to infection. As part of the
printingprocess, the scaffolds can be
ink-jettedwith antibiotics to fight the infection and with growth factors to stimulate replacement bone growth. These therapeutics can be applied to the surface of the graft, or embedded uniformly in it, so they can be released gradually, as the graft dissolves, to ensure the infection is eradicated and to stimulate regeneration of the bone tissue.
Dr. Danielle Benoit
Dr. Mark Buckley
With support from a National Institutes of Health grant, Dr. Danielle Benoit's team is exploring the use of hydrogels - Jell-O-like polymers - that can be seeded with the patient's own stem cells and wrapped around the transplant. Benoit's graduate student Michael Hoffman has demonstrated that as the hydrogel dissolves, the stem cells are gradually released and promote bone healing and integration. Benoit is exploring various ways in which this can all be orchestrated to maximize graft healing and integration.
Dr. Mark Buckley, who joined biomedical engineering as an assistant professor at the start of the year, is studying heat buildup in tendons as they are stretched during various activities and the extent to which this contributes to cell death and eventual deterioration of the tendon. A key part of this research involves characterizing exactly what constitutes healthy tendon structure and function.
May 9, 2013
Jason Inzana Wins 2013 Alice L. Jee Award
Jason Inzana, Ph.D. candidate in Professor Hani Awad's Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering laboratory, has been selected as one of the recipients of the 2013 Alice L. Jee Young Investigator Award. For winning this award, Jason will have the honor of an invited presentation of a poster entitled
Skeletally Immature Mice are More Susceptible than Mature Mice to the Detrimental Effects of High Fat Diet on Cancellous Bone in the Distal Femurat the 42nd International Sun Valley Workshop poster session in Sun Valley, Idaho, in August 2013.
March 15, 2013
The University of Rochester Medical Center's Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation has been ranked No. 1 in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding for orthopaedic research, according to data released by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.
The URMC Center for Musculoskeletal Research (CMSR) received $4.86 million in peer-reviewed NIH research grants in 2012, surpassing institutions such as Washington University, Johns Hopkins and Duke University. At a time when research dollars are becoming increasingly scarce, the CMSR upped its funding by 30 percent over the previous year.
This is a testament to the caliber of URMC's orthopaedic research endeavors and our stellar class of investigators,said Edward M. Schwarz, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research and the Burton Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedics.
Our funding success is due in large part to a programmatic organizational design, a strong emphasis on collaboration across departments, and the diverse research interests of our faculty. It is clearly a case of the sum being greater than its parts.
March 6, 2013
Hani Awad receives an Established Investigator grant from the MTF
Hani Awad, Ph.D., has received a 3-year, $300,000 grant from the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF) for an Established Investigator research project entitled
Teriparatide and Allograft Cartilage Derived Matrix for Regenerative Repair of Articular Cartilage.The funded preclinical study will investigate the hypothesis that parathyroid hormone (PTH) therapy can enhance repair of knee cartilage defects grafted with a novel cartilage allograft derived matrix (CDM) compared to standard surgical methods currently in clinical practice. For more information please visit the Awad Lab.
January 27, 2013
Youssef Farhat, a BME MD/PhD student in the Awad Lab, has won first place in the Orthopaedic Research Society Video Outreach Competition for his 3-minute video raising awareness of Orthopaedic research in a way that is enjoyable and easy to understand.
His video was the only entry from the University of Rochester. Winners were determined by vote of members of the ORS. Youssef's own research is aimed at reducing or eliminating scar tissue in hands. But in his film
Who Cares About Orthopaedic Research?, Farhat explains that orthopaedic conditions like fractures, arthritis, back pain, and cancer, have an impact on nearly everyone at some point from birth to old age. He works in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research at the UR Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, and is pursuing a doctorate in biomedical engineering in the lab of Hani A. Awad, Ph.D.
May 17, 2012
BME/ChE Professors Receive Provost Multidisciplinary Award
March 30, 2012
Two current BME and Chemical Engineering students and a BME alumna have received prestigious National Science Foundation Research Fellowships. BME graduate student, Jason Inzana (Awad Lab), Michael Baranello, a Chemical Engineering Ph.D. student in the Benoit Lab, and Molly Boutin, an alumnus of the Benoit lab (undergraduate research assistant), were among those who received the fellowships.
Selection for these awards is based on the students' outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as their potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the US science and engineering enterprise. The fellowship, which is part of a federally sponsored program, provides three years of graduate study support for students pursing doctoral degrees. The fellowship includes a three-year annual stipend of $30,000, a $10,500 educational allowance to the institution, and international research opportunities.
September 21, 2011
A medication already approved to build bone mass in patients with osteoporosis also builds cartilage around joints and could potentially be repurposed to treat millions of people suffering from arthritis, according to orthopaedic researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The study authors hope their laboratory findings, published in the current issue of Science Translational Medicine, will set the stage for the first human clinical trials to test human parathyroid hormone (brand name: Forteo) in this growing patient population.
July 12, 2010
Associate Professors Andrew Berger (Optics) and Hani Awad (BME) were among the recipients of a 2010-2011 Provost Multidisciplinary Award (PMA) for a study entitled
Noninvasive optical monitoring of bone degradation in a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This study will develop a noninvasive optical method of measuring bone fragility in genetically modified mice developing severe RA as they receive both anti-inflammatory medication and complementary drugs that try to preserve bone health. By providing a better way of tracking bone fragility in living animals, this work will generate new understanding of how bone disorders develop and how medicines can treat them more effectively in both animals and humans.
September 12, 2009
An existing osteoporosis drug is the first ever found to prevent cartilage loss from osteoarthritis following injury to a joint, and may also regenerate some cartilage that has been lost to osteoarthritis, according to an early study presented today at the annual meeting of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research in Denver. While the study was in mice, the model closely mimics human osteoarthritis that develops following knee injuries, according to the study authors.
June 18, 2009
Dr. Awad Receives a NIH Grant Award
Dr. Hani Awad has received funding from the NIH to support a 5 year study that seeks to develop a tissue engineering-based solution to debilitating adhesions that are frequently encountered with flexor tendon reconstructive surgery. The funded research will evaluate the interplay between pro- and anti-scarring factors to identify therapeutic targets for this problem. The studies will also investigate the efficacy of using allografts and gene therapy in eradicating adhesions and restoring the joint's range of motion. The new grant will expand this area of research, which has been previously funded by grants from the Orthopaedic Research Education Foundation (OREF) and the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation (MTF).
March 18, 2009
Ten scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) have been awarded more than $6.8 million by the Empire State Stem Cell Board. The grants are for a wide range of research programs in the fields of neurological disorders, cancer, musculoskeletal diseases, the blood system, and efforts to understand the fundamental mechanics of stem cell biology.
Stem cell research for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine is a rapidly evolving field that holds great promise for the 21st century. Drs. Hani Awad, Laura Calvi, Edward Puzas, Edward Schwarz, Xinping Zhang, Dirk Bohmann, James Palis, Richard Waugh and others have obtained funding for stem cell research to further their efforts in this area that include: understanding the molecular genetic characteristic of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), how to expand MSCs in vitro and in vivo, methods to impregnate matrices with MSCs to tissue engineer bone and cartilage, and how to image labeled MSCs.
February 25, 2009
Tony Chen Presents Two Papers at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society
Tony Chen, Ph.D. Candidate, presented two papers at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society in Las Vegas, NV (February 22 - 25, 2009). The papers he presented were:
- Chen T, Jeffries R, Zuscik M, Awad H. Anabolic Effects of TGF-beta1 and Low Oxygen on Bioreactor-Cultivated Tissue Engineered Cartilage, and
- Chen T, Zuscik M, Awad H. Interstitial Flow Produces a Superficial Zone-Like Layer in Tissue Engineered Cartilage.
June 29, 2008
Laura Yanoso Scholl wins Award at the SBC 2008 meeting
Laura Yanoso Scholl won the First Prize in the MS Student Poster Competition at the Summer Bioengineering Conference (June 25-29, 2008), Marco Island, FL, for her paper and poster entitled
Evaluation of Poly-Lactic Acid/Beta-Ticalcium Phosphate Scaffolds as Segmental Bone Graft Substitutes.
June 16, 2007
David Reynolds Wins Award at the 2007 TERMIS Meeting
David Reynolds won First Prize in the Ph.D. student competition at the Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) meeting in Toronto (June 13-16, 2007) for his paper and poster entitled
Novel Measurement of Bone Graft-to-Host Union Using CT Imaging: Implications for Biomechanical Strength.David competed with 250 student applicants and along with the honor of placing first he won a $1,000 cash prize.
April 1, 2007
BME Assistant Professor Hani Awad received this award, along with the research group from his alma mater led by Dr. David Butler. The team was recognized for their research and manuscript on
Functional Tissue Engineering for Tendon Repair: A Multidisciplinary Strategy Using Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Bioscaffolds and Mechanical Stimulation.This is the highest research award given by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).
- 3D Printing of Calcium Phosphate Ceramics for Bone Tissue Engineering and Drug Delivery.Ann Biomed Eng. (2016 Jun 20).
- Biomaterials approaches to treating implant-associated osteomyelitis.Biomaterials. 81, 58-71. (2016 Mar 01).