Our lab’s research focuses on elucidating and quantifying the molecular aspects that control lymphatic function as they respond to the dynamically changing mechanical environment they encounter in the body. Through the use of tissue-engineered model systems and animal models, our research is shedding light on key functions of lymphatic transport, and the consequence of disease on these functions. There are currently no efficacious cures for people suffering from lymphedema, and knowledge of the underlying mechanisms driving disease risk and pathogenesis will provide insight for planning treatment and prevention strategies for people facing lymphatic related diseases.
Intrinsic to the lymphatic system are the varying mechanical forces (i.e., stretch, fluid shear stress) that the vessels encounter as they seek to maintain interstitial fluid balance and promote crucial transport functions, such as lipid transport and immune cell trafficking. Thus, we are also interested in understanding the nature of these forces in both healthy and disease states in order to probe the biological response of the lymphatic system to mechanical forces. The complexity of these questions requires the development of new tools and technologies in tissue engineering and imaging. In the context of exploring lymphatic physiology, members of LLBB learn to weave together techniques in molecular and cell biology, biomechanics, imaging, biomaterials, computer programming, and image and signal processing to provide insight into the regulation of lymphatic physiology. Students in the lab also have the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary environment, as we collaborate with clinicians, life scientists, and other engineers, thus preparing the student for a career in academia and basic science research, or a career in industry.