This summer, Dr. Sina Rabbany, Hofstra’s Jean Nerken Professor of Engineering and Director of the Bioengineering Program, is working with a talented group of students from varied age groups and educational backgrounds to continue research on examining the role of biomechanical forces on endothelial cells (EC) – the cells that make up the structure of blood vessels. This research is supported by the Dean’s Fund of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, using a donation made by Mr. Paul Saueracker ’78, CEO, Minerals Technologies (retired).
The hope is that by creating cell culture conditions that maintain the cells in a more physiologic state, the ECs may be more accurately characterized. Two of the Saueracker Scholars are rising juniors and bioengineering majors, Nickolas Boroda from Massapequa, NY, and Pierre Llanos, from Oceanside, NY. The third beneficiary of the research fund is Andrew Wong, from Manhasset, NY, a graduate of Tulane University, who is serving as a design engineer for the devices created to study the ECs.
Joining Nick, Pierre, Andrew and Dr. Rabbany in the Cell and Tissue Engineering Lab this summer are Hofstra senior Ryan Farley, from Tampa, Florida, whose senior design project is related to the other students’ research; and Andrew Costenoble, a high school student from Port Washington, NY, interning in the lab and working on a submission for the Intel Science Competition. Also assisting in the research is Dr. Nick Merna, a post-doctoral research associate who came to Hofstra from the University of California, Irvine.
According to Dr. Rabbany, Nickolas, Pierre and Andrew Wong are studying EC response to varying microenvironmental conditions, in the hopes of presenting a more complete picture of the cell’s behavior. Nickolas, who outside the lab is an RA at Hofstra and president of AEPi fraternity, is conducting research focused on “conformational changes in EC in controlled microenvironments.” Pierre, a mentor and tutor for younger students in Hofstra’s C-STEP program (Collegiate Science and Technology Entry), is working on “characterization of shear induced ECs using atomic force microscopy.” Andrew’s research is on design of a bioreactor to expose cells to laminar shear stress.
Ryan is studying how the cytoskeleton of human cells allows cells to interpret and react to forces of pressure and blood shear (flow). He hopes to gain a better understanding of the role played by the cell architecture in these responses by inhibiting different cell elements like actin and microtubules. Dr. Rabbany is encouraged that with assistance of his new postdoc, Dr. Merna, his group will be able to elucidate the role of biomechanical forces imparted on ECs by blood flow on signal transduction and gene expression. This will provide insights into the molecular mechanisms by which hemodynamic factors regulate vascular system during health and disease.
(Top photo, l-r) Dr. Nick Merna, Andrew Wong, Andrew Costenoble (kneeling), Pierre Llanos, Ryan Farley, Nickolas Boroda, and Dr. Sina Rabbany.