Congratulations to BME postdoc Eleana Manousiouthakis, Ph.D., on being awarded a Breathing Research and Therapeutics (BREATHE) postdoctoral fellowship funded through the McKnight Brain Institute. The BREATHE Training Program combines basic science and translational research to educate predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees. She is one of nine trainees currently in the program.
The BREATHE Training Program is allied with several prominent centers and is housed in the Breathing Research and Therapeutics Center located in the McKnight Brain Institute at UF. The goal is to develop a unique cohort of researchers with strong foundations in respiratory neuromuscular biology and an appreciation for the realities of translational research in our attempts to develop treatments for impaired breathing and airway defense.
Manousiouthakis’ research focuses on developing in vitro testbed systems to study the cellular microenvironment and the impact of extracellular matrix changes on tissue repair and function. Specifically, she uses 3D printing technologies (e.g., soft matter bioprinting in liquid-like solids) and naturally derived polymers, such as hyaluronic acid, with tunable mechanical properties to create tissue-engineered constructs to study the special and temporal changes that occur in the extracellular matrix in acute and chronic spinal cord injury. These systems are seeded with cells to study the response of specific cell types to matrix changes in a controlled environment. Therapeutic treatments can then be studied in these testbeds to assess candidates in a high throughput manner. Her mentor is Dr. Christine Schmidt, professor and chair of the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering.