The J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering would like to welcome Dr. Blanka Sharma, who has recently accepted an Assistant Professor position effective this January!
Dr. Sharma’s research is focused on elucidating the microenvironmental cues that affect the role of stem cells in tissue repair and disease, and developing biomaterials and stem cell therapies for regenerative medicine and cancer therapy. Dr. Sharma received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Elisseeff. In her doctoral studies, she developed biomimetic 3-D tissue models to study the role of adult stem cells in musculoskeletal tissue repair, and developed a hydrogel to direct their differentiation to cartilage cells. This research was transferred to a start-up company (Cartilix Inc.), where she led preclinical studies and further developed the technology for clinical trials of cartilage repair in the knee. She currently is conducting postdoctoral studies with Dr. Vinod Labhasetwar at the Cleveland Clinic in the area of translational nanomedicine. As part of these studies, she has developed non-viral gene delivery systems to treat cancer and demonstrated a new approach to tumor targeting of nanoparticles based on biophysical changes in cell membranes that occur during malignancy.
Dr. Sharma’s engineering background and interdisciplinary “bench-to-beside” experience will perfectly situate her to make key contributions to Biomedical Engineering and translational medicine, and allow her to connect with many other programs at UF.
We look forward to having Blanka on board soon!