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Fall 2019 Seminar Speakers

The Comparative Medicine Institute hosted three seminar speakers this semester:

Dr. Carl Imhauser was hosted by the Functional Tissue Engineering Program on September 17.  He spoke on the “Knee Biomechanics in a Hospital Setting: Translating Basic Knowledge to Improve Patient Care.”   HSS is the leading institution for orthopaedic and musculoskeletal care in the United States. Dr. Imhauser is Assistant Scientist in the Biomechanics Department from Hospital for Special Surgery (HHS) in New York City and Assistant Professor of Applied Biomechanics in Orthopaedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine, the medical school of Cornell University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Temple University (1997) and completed his master’s (2000) and doctoral (2004) studies in mechanical engineering at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA.   The knee is the largest, most common injured musculoskeletal joint. Among the most pervasive knee injuries are sprains and tears of ligaments, which are painful and debilitating. Treatment for knee ligament injuries relies on standardized guidelines that fail to address the immense interpersonal variability in knee function contributing to suboptimal outcomes including high surgical revision rates, reinjury, and significant healthcare costs. The presentation described some of the translational research that his team has undertaken using computer, patient, and cadaver model systems towards more personalized, predictable treatment of knee ligament injuries. Dr. Imhauser’s team-based research is conducted in close collaboration with orthopedic surgeons at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS).

On October 8, 2019, Dr. Wayne McCormack spoke on “Team Science Training for Biomedical Science Graduate Education.”   He is a Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor in the Department of Pathology, Immunology & Laboratory Medicine, Director of Clinical & Translational Science Doctoral Program, Director, UF Health Office of Biomedical Research Career Development and Associate Director of Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Florida.  Dr. McCormack started by asking, “How can PhD trainees prepare for the team science era in which biomedical research is increasingly interdisciplinary and collaborative?  What competencies are essential for successful collaboration?”  The premise of the seminar was that if future biomedical scientists are expected to work in teams, they should be trained in teams.  At the University of Florida Health Science Center, they provide didactic and experiential training using the “science of team science.” A Clinical & Translational Science Award (CTSA) TL1 training grant is being used to support “TL1 Teams” of doctoral students who collaborate in interdisciplinary teams to develop team specific aims that expand the scope of their individual dissertation projects.  Students practice team skills while performing authentic collaborative research embedded in their dissertation research.  Dr. McCormack gave an exciting summation of the work that they are doing at the University of Florida in the field.

The Emerging and Infectious Disease Program hosted Dr. Matthew J. Flick, Associate Professor from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC Blood Research, on October 24.  His seminar was on “The Clotting Protein Fibrinogen is a Modifier of Pathogen Virulence and Host Defense in Staphylococcus aureus infection.”  Fibrin(ogen) is a multifunctional clotting protein that not only has critical roles in hemostasis but is also important in inflammatory processes that control bacterial infection. As a provisional extracellular matrix protein, fibrin(ogen) functions as a physical barrier, a scaffold for immune cell migration, or as a spatially-defined cue to drive inflammatory cell activation. These mechanisms contribute to overall host antimicrobial defense against infection. However, numerous bacterial species have evolved mechanisms to manipulate host fibrin(ogen) to promote microbial virulence and survival. Staphylococcal species, in particular, express numerous virulence factors capable of engaging fibrin(ogen), promoting fibrin formation, and driving the dissolution of fibrin matrices. Recent studies have highlighted both new insights into the molecular mechanisms involved in fibrin(ogen)-mediated host defense and pathogen-driven virulence. Dr. Flick’s laboratory has employed a combination of genetically-modified mice carrying null or functional mutations in prothrombin and fibrinogen along with S. aureus strains in which key virulence factors that target host clotting proteins have been eliminated to define the interplay between the host coagulation system and the microbe in models of S. aureus bacteremia and peritonitis. Collectively, his data suggest that the role of fibrin(ogen) in staphylococcal infection is highly context-dependent and that better defining the precise cellular and molecular pathways activated will provide unique opportunities of therapeutic intervention to better treat Staphylococcal disease