Academics

CB2R Fall Seminar Series

The CB2R (Cumberland Bridge to Rowan) Seminar Series are designed to further engage students the in various areas and disciplines of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math).

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

12:30—2 P.M. | Frank Wheaton Jr. Building: Room Wheaton 2    Click to Download the Flyer

Tissue Regeneration through Stem Cell Differentiation

Cristina Iftode, Ph.D.

The Iftode laboratory addresses an unmet need in the treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration, which is the development of minimally invasive therapies that provide long-lasting healing outcomes. Previous studies have focused on seeding stem cells in biocompatible, but not bioadhesive, hydrogels, to achieve the formation of a new NP matrix (Nerurkur et al., 2010). However, scaffold bioadhesivness is required to prevent dislocation in the disc of the implanted cells (Slivka and Sernhan, 2005, Smith et al., 2006). The lab’s approach is to inject stem cells encapsulated in a bioadhesive scaffold that bonds with the surrounding tissue and provides an environment permissive to the survival and differentiation of the cells that will eventually replace the diseased disc tissue. One goal of Iftode’s group research is to demonstrate that this bioadhesive polymer is compatible with stem cell survival and differentiation into healthy IVD tissue. The laboratory uses adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cell (AD-MSCs) due to ease of isolation and the ability to differentiate into several specialized cell types (multipotent). Another goal of the lab’s research is to demonstrate that AD-MSCs work as efficiently for differentiation into disc-like, NP cells when embedded in the bioadhesive polymer. One critical aspect of this aim is to select suitable genetic markers that accurately demonstrate the successful differentiation of AD-MSCs to the NP phenotype.

Microbial Immobilization of Soluble Lead

Gregory Hecht, Ph.D.

Previous work by Dr. Hecht’s laboratory demonstrated that microbes are able to precipitate lead in the form of Pb9(PO4)6, which can otherwise only be produced synthetically at around 200°C (Mire et al.2004). The lab has isolated several spontaneous lead hyper-precipitating (hyp) strains of the freshwater oligotrophic bacterium Caulobacter crescentus as well as several non-precipitating (nop) suppressor strains. Whole genome sequencing coupled with classical genetic techniques has revealed that these mutants harbor changes in CC3625 (cysteine synthase), CC1117 (a LysR transcription regulator), and CC1482 (sulfate adenylyltransferase. Hecht’s group has also shown that alkaline phosphatase activity is required for Pb9(PO4)6 precipitation. Current and planned work includes: (1) analysis of an additional nop strain that does not carry mutations in the previously identified suppressor genes, (2) identification of specific alkaline phosphatase(s) necessary for lead precipitation, (3) transcriptome analysis of Caulobacter strains to identify additional genes that play roles in precipitation and/or heavy metal stress response, and (4) ICP-MS to quantify the rate and efficiency of microbial lead precipitation with the longer term objective to develop benchtop simulations of bioremediation applications.