Current Trainees

We are currently seeking M.D., Ph.D., D.V.M., D.D.S., and D.M.D. graduates who are U.S.citizens or U.S. permanent residents for this two-year interdisciplinary training program.  Applications from underrepresented minority individuals are strongly encouraged.

Current Postdoctoral Fellows 
Left to right: Emmanuel Ekwueme, Renea Faulknor, Alexandra Pastino, Omid Rahmanian, Amir Fakhrzadeh

Dr. Emmanuel Ekwueme received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University in May 2015.  Under the direction of Dr. Joseph Freeman, his dissertation focused on investigating the biological and biomechanical response of sub-failure ligament and tendon injuries.  Utilizing a series of biochemical and biomechanical techniques, he elucidated the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) turnover during tendon healing and explored non-surgical techniques for tissue repair.  For one related project exploring treatment with bone marrow stromal cells (MSCs), he characterized the paracrine interplay between tendon cells and MSCs during stem cell-mediated tendon repair.

Dr. Ekwueme joined the laboratory of Drs. Joseph Vacanti and Cathryn Sundback in the Department of Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in June 2015.  He is working to enhance the functional innervation and vascularization of a tissue engineered, self-assembled skeletal myotube construct and utilize the model as a screening platform to study the etiology and treatment of muscular dystrophies.

Selected publications:

Dr. Amir Fakhrzadeh received his D.M.D degree from the Boston University School of Dental Medicine in May 2014. After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Boston University, he continued on to advanced clinical training in the fields of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery as well as Periodontics, while also maintaining his clinical practice in General Dentistry.

Dr. Fakhrzadeh joined the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials in the laboratory of Dr. Joachim Kohn and will be co-advised by Dr. Pamela Yelick at Tufts University. His interest is primarily on translational research focused to develop innovative surgical technologies in the fields of Oral Implantology and Regenerative Dentistry. 

Dr. Renea Faulknor received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University. Through collaborative efforts between the labs of Dr. François Berthiaume and Dr. Martin Yarmush, her dissertation focused on the use of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as a treatment for chronic wounds. Dr. Faulknor developed a dressing consisting of MSCs immobilized in alginate-like bandages that conform to wounds and showed that immobilized MSCs increased wound closure rate in a diabetic mouse model. In vitro studies showed that MSCs positive effect on wound closure is due to MSCs ability to decrease the production of inflammatory mediators while increasing wound closure rate by enhancing the contractile activity of skin fibroblasts.

Dr. Faulknor joined the laboratory of Dr. Sundback in the department of Tissue Engineering and Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in June 2015. She is investigating the effect of a decellularized scaffold infused with platelet rich plasma on inflammation and fibrosis during wound healing.

Selected publications:

Dr. Alexandra Pastino received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from Princeton University. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Jean Schwarzbauer, her dissertation focused on the role of the extracellular matrix on the progression of diabetic disorders. Specifically, she elucidated the stimulatory effects of advanced glycated endproducts (AGEs) on fibronectin matrix assembly.

Dr. Pastino joined the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials in the laboratory of Dr. Joachim Kohn and will be co-advised by Dr. Prabhas Moghe at Rutgers University. She is interested in integrating biological and biochemical techniques with materials science to study the role of the extracellular matrix in tissue regeneration.

Dr. Omid David Rahmanian received his Ph.D. in Bioengineering from University of Maryland, College Park. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Don DeVoe his research focused on thermoplastic microfluidic technologies for portable and disposable bioanalytical and diagnostic platforms. Collectively, the microfluidic technologies developed during his graduate work are utilized in development of simple, portable, and disposable diagnostic devices that can be operated in resource-constrained settings by practitioners with minimal medical expertise.
Dr. Rahmanian will be joining the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials in the laboratory of Dr. Joachim Kohn and will be co-advised by Dr. Cathryn Sundback at Massachusetts General Hospital.  He is interested in developing microfluidic techniques for development of three-dimensional vascularized tissue.

Selected publications: