PEOPLE

Scientific Minds

ANTHONY BERGER, PHD

Post Doctoral Trainee

Background: PhD, Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 2018; BS, Biochemistry, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN, 2009


About me: I like exploring new music, going to shows, and playing drums. Outside of that, I spend a lot of time working with my hands – from replacing the struts in my car to reroofing my garage. I also have a pretty cool dog.


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: Most people are familiar with the idea that fat, white adipose tissue in this case, acts as an energy storage and that physical activity ‘burns’ this fat. However, there is another type of fat (brown adipose tissue) that is ‘burned’ to produce heat and warm the body.

GEORGE TAYLOR, MD

Clinical Fellow

Current: Clinical Fellow in BellasFATLab, Surgery Resident at Temple University


Background: M.D., Stony Brook University School of Medicine, Stony Brook, NY, 2017; M.S., Biological Sciences, Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, 2013; B.A., Biology, Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, 2011


About Me: Father, husband, avid soccer player and fan, former kicker/punter.


Research Interests: Collagen 6 gene expression and its role in adipocyte dysfunction, wound healing following median sternotomy, utility of preoperative laboratory testing in low-risk patients prior to low-risk surgery, competency-based graduate medical education, resident burnout.


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: Fat cells make the hormone leptin, which helps regulate entire body energy stores by influencing feelings of hunger or satiety in the brain!

GOLNAZ ANVARI, MS

Graduate Research Assistant

Current: PhD candidate in Bioengineering at Temple University


Background: MS, Bioengineering, Temple University, PA, 2017; BS, Biomedical Engineering, Amirkabir University of Technology, Iran, 2013

About Me: In my free time I enjoy reading books traveling and trying new food from different countries.


Research interests: Extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling, In vitro models, Biomechanics, Adipose tissue engineering.

My project is focused on fabricating adipose tissue healthy and diseased in vitro models to study the effect of microenvironmental cues (biological makeup, biochemical signals, mechanical forces) on ECM remodeling.


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: Adipose tissue is a complicated endocrine organ that regulates a variety of processes such as insulin sensitivity, inflammation, etc. in our body.

MICHAEL STRUSS

Graduate Research Assistant

Current: PhD student in Bioengineering at Temple University


Background: BS, Bioengineering (Biomaterials), Temple University, PA, 2017


About Me: In my free time I enjoy snowboarding, golfing, watching football, and investigating how pretty much everything in this world works.


Research Interests: Microfluidics, Adipose Tissue Engineering, 3D Printing

Adipose tissue is a highly vascularized endocrine organ, dependent on its vasculature to maintain metabolic homeostasis. Traditionally, adipose tissue has been studied in vitro using 2D or 3D cultures, but these methods fail to model spatiotemporal organization. Microphysiological models, also known as organs on chips, are in vitro platforms equipped with perfusable channels to specifically model the endocrine signaling and cellular interactions seen in vivo. However, current microphysiological models are often too large in size, limiting their integration into traditional culture ware. My project seeks to develop a miniaturized microphysiological adipose tissue model (µAT) compatible with standard culture ware and thus amenable to high-throughput platforms.


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: When energy (fatty acids) is used by the body, fat cells shrink in size rather than shrinking in number, therefore the size, not overall number, of fat cells in the body plays a key role in overall metabolic health. That means whether you weigh 100 or 200 lbs you’d have approximately the same number of fat cells, but not the same sized cells.

NIKOLAS DI CAPRIO

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Current: Research Assistant until starting PhD at UPenn (Fall 2020)


Background: BS, Bioengineering (Biomaterials), minor in Chemistry, Temple University, Dec 2019


About Me: In my free time, I enjoy exploring the great city of Philadelphia, watching the 76ers dominate the East, and throwing down sick tricks on my skis.


Research Interests: Biomaterials, ECM-Cell Interactions, ECM Mechanics, Cell Mechanics, Focal Adhesions, Stem Cell Differentiation, 3D Bioprinting, Adipose Tissue, and Cartilage Tissue Engineering


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: Eating slowly enhances the breakdown of carbohydrates (sugars) in your mouth via saliva (amylases) and allows our taste buds more time to interact with the food we eat. This allows the body more time to produce hunger suppression hormones that signal the brain that we are full. This is why nutritionists insist on eating slower to reduce the amount of food we consume!

JENNIFER HAMMEL

Research Assistant

Current: Research Assistant until starting PhD at VTech (Fall 2020)


Background: BS, Bioengineering (Tissue Engineering), Temple University,  Dec 2019


About Me: In my free time, I love hiking, reading mystery novels, and exploring new places.


Research Interests: Vascularization of Engineered Tissues, Cellular Cross-Talk, in vitro Disease Modeling

My research focuses on engineering vascularized models of adipose tissue.  Previously I found the presence of endothelial cells to delay maturation in co-cultured adipocytes. To uncover the mechanism behind this phenomenon, I am currently examining soluble factors, cell-cell contacts, and ECM remodeling.


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: The number of fat cells in one human body is greater than the number of people on Earth!

ELEANOR CASTON

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Current: Majoring in Bioengineering (Biomaterials)

About Me: I love spending time with my friends and my dog. In my spare time, I love to run and even ran a half marathon last spring!


Research Interests: My research project investigates the relationship between adipocytes and macrophages in adipose tissue inflammation and cross talk.


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: Seven out of ten cells in fat tissue aren’t fat cells. One gram of fat tissue only contains about 1-2 million adipocytes (fat cells) but had 4-6 million stromal vascular cells (a mix of cells, including endothelial cells, fibroblasts and immune cells, etc).

JOSEPH URBAN

Visiting Undergraduate Research Assistant

Current: Majoring in Biomedical Engineering (Brown University). Brown LINK Summer Stipend Fellow.


About me: In my free time I enjoy playing guitar and playing soccer.


Research Interests: Coronary Artery-on-a-Chip. Having entered the BFL with no prior research experience, I was quite intimidated by how many different skills I needed to learn. Developing and testing an Artery-on-a-Chip model requires an understanding of everything from microfluidic fabrication to cell culture to fluid dynamics. The presence of multiple, distinct cell types makes this a challenge due to the complex interactions simultaneously occurring between each cell type. The members of the BFL have been incredibly helpful and constructive. I could not ask for a better environment to grow not only as a researcher but also as a person. The challenges of this project have shown me just how much there is left to learn about vascular tissue engineering, both for myself and in the wider field as a whole. My experiences with the BFL have inspired me to pursue a career in academia researching microfluidics and microphysiological modeling, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Coronary Artery-on-a-Chip system.


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: Fat tissue not only stores energy from food, but also functions as a useful padding to protect organs such as the eyes and kidneys.

CHARLOTTE NESBITT

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Current: Majoring in Bioengineering at Temple University

About Me: I’m on the Temple Womxn’s Ultimate Frisbee team (Go TUF!), and I enjoy crosswords and hacky sacking.


Research Interests: I am interested in how fat cells sense and react to mechanical forces. In particular, I want to study the relationship between matrix stiffness and macrophage polarization in adipose tissue.


Favorite Fun Fat Fact: Despite the fact that sumo wrestlers have a lot more fat than the average person, they do not usually suffer from symptoms of obesity. Excess fat deposition surrounding vital organs can cause inflammation and other health issues, but sumo wrestlers’ intense exercise causes the fat to be diverted to directly under the skin where it can exist without causing these health problems.

 

CLINICAL COLLABORATIONS

ANDREW GASSMAN, M.D.

Assistant Professor, Surgery (Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery), Temple University

MEDICAL STUDENTS

Alexa Deemer, B.S.
Maria Sharaf, B.S.
Andrew Daigneau, B.S.
Alexis Lo, B.S.

 

BELLASFATLAB SENIOR DESIGN TEAMS

JCN BIOINK
(2018-2019)

Finalists from Bioengineering, 3rd Place Winners in the College of Engineering


Niko Di Caprio, Jen Hammel and Chris Hunnewell

Current engineered skin models are rudimentary, lack the critical subcutaneous (SQ) fat and are cumbersome to engineer. JCN BioInk developed a 3D bioprinter to rapidly and reproduciblly construct full thickness skin.

ADVANCE CHIP DESIGN FOR CNS-MODELING (ACDC)*
(2017-2018)

Vanja Nikolic, Rogena Azer, Timothy Sullivan

Development of an in vitro neurovascular unit using microfluidic technology to study the blood brain barrier. *Co-advised by Sergio Ramirez, PhD.

THE LITTLE CHUBBY CHIP
(2016-2017)

1st Place for Bioengineering, Grand Prize Winners in the College of Engineering

Nasir Holliday, Charles Silva, Michael Struss, Casey Hobel

Miniaturizing organs-on-chips to be compatible with high-throughput testing.

 

BELLASFATLAB ALUMNI

CLINICAL FELLOWS

Edwin Acevedo, Jr, MD (2017-2019)

  • Current: Surgery Resident at Temple University

  • Ed was responsible for getting our IRB, to procure otherwise discarded adipose tissue, approved. He was the first lab member to image human fat from different depots.

UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS

  • Alexandra Abruzzo (Spring 2018- Fall 2019)

  • Kyle Schwab (Spring 2018- Summer 2019)

  • Alice Bobovich (Summer 2018 Visiting USC student)

  • Joseph Woolerton (Summer 2018)

  • Anthony Nassier Boyce Davis (Spring 2017- Summer 2017)

  • Jimmy Dawood (Fall 2016- Summer 2017)

 

Bioengineering Department
1947 N. 12th St
Philadelphia PA 19122

©2020 by BellasFATLab and Evangelia Bellas.