Postdoc Highlight: Eleana Manousiouthakis

Eleana Manousiouthakis

Lab: Biomimetic Materials and Neural Engineering Lab, PI: Dr. Christine E. Schmidt

Hometown: LosĀ  Angeles, CA

Degree: Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University

Year you became a Gator: 2019

From which institutions do you hold degrees?
BS, Biomedical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2011)
MA, Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California (2013)
PhD, Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University (2019)

Research focus:
Within the Biomimetic Materials and Neural Engineering Lab, I work to create outside the body in vitro testbed systems to study central and peripheral nervous system injuries, utilizing various 3D printing technologies and natural biomaterials. One such project involves cell and protein patterning, with respect to their locational changes over time, in spinal cord injury (SCI) utilizing a 3D printed model. It is estimated that 17,000 new SCIs occur per year, with no current treatment for those that sustain a complete SCI. In most cases any improvement that may occur in patients happens within the first couple weeks of injury, so the focus of my work is to emulate the changes that occur in chronic SCI through these in vitro models. We can pattern the specific locations of both cells and extracellular matrix components that make up the tissue landscape of a SCI utilizing the 3D printing technology pioneered by our collaborator Dr. Angelini. The goal of these multi-component SCI model systems is to provide researchers in the pursuit of therapeutic treatments with a testing platform of late stage SCI. This work will lay the foundation to help the thousands of patients living with SCI.

What motivates you?
I am motivated by the pursuit of technological advances that will ultimately help propel the medical field forward. Biomedical Engineering is a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary field that is a pleasure to work in. My colleagues and students are what keeps me motivated day in and day out.

What attracted you to UF BME?
Dr. Schmidt is a leader in the field of neural tissue engineering so I was already interested in working with her, but the collaborative nature of UF really drew me in. The opportunity to work across departments is something that is very important to me and UF is very open to that type of work.

What I love about Gainesville:
I love the Gainesville music and arts scene. There are a lot of amazing indie creatives here so there is a lot to look forward to both in my work at UF and outside of work. It also helps that there are some awesome nature getaways very close by.