Below you will find descriptions of labs that we featured
in the 2013 Mini-Medical School
Williams Laboratory – Design, development and optimization of medical imaging technologies
Mark Williams, PhD., Associate Professor, Departments of Radiology & Medical Imaging, Biomedical Engineering & Physics.
We will show participants a breast-imaging project involving a new dual modality breast scanner that acquires 3-dimensional mammograms and 3-dimensional maps of imaging tracers within the breast in quick sequence. We are conducting studies to determine the added value of the fused structural (3-D mammogram) and functional (3-D tracer map) images for detecting and characterizing breast lesions compared to current breast imaging techniques.
Bouton Laboratory – Molecular Signals that Drive Breast Cancer Invasion and Metastasis
Amy Bouton, PhD., Associate Professor, Departments of Microbiology, Immunology and Cancer Biology
For more than a decade, our group has been performing breast cancer research to try to understand the signals that drive aggressive tumor behaviors. We focus on a signaling network comprised of three proteins that work in concert to promote breast tumor growth and invasiveness. As we learn more about the ways in which these proteins function within an integrated molecular network, our goal is to identify novel ways with which to inhibit or block these pathways to control tumor growth and metastasis. During the evening, we will introduce you to the systems that we use to study the function and regulation of this molecular network in 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional tissue culture models of breast cancer as well as in clinical breast cancer samples.
Blemker Laboratory – Multi-scale Muscle Mechanics Laboratory
Silva Salinas Blemker, PhD., Associate Professor, Departments of Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering & Orthopaedic Surgery
Skeletal muscles are extraordinarily adapted motors that enable us to perform many important functions, from walking to breathing to speech. How is each muscle’s structure adapted to perform its specialized function in the human body? How can a maladapted muscle be restored to perform its specific function? Answering these questions will have important implications on our ability to develop improved treatments for many clinical problems ranging from, for example, movement disorders to speech impairments. The goal of Multi-scale Muscle Mechanics (“M3”) Lab’s research is to use multi-scale computational and experimental approaches in order to answer the above questions and ultimately lead to improved treatments for muscle-related clinical problems. In this lab tour, we will demonstrate our experimental and modeling methods used in our lab and describe some recent examples of how these experiments/models have lead to clinically-relevant insights.
Stone Laboratory – Heady Topics: The Trauma of Brain Injuries
James R. Stone, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Radiology
We all have heard about possible serious head injury that might occur in high school, college or professional sporting events such as football. Our active military also live with the possibility of repetitive brain trauma from acute or repetitive low-level blast exposure and this is believed to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality in recent armed conflicts. In Dr. Stone’s laboratory you will explore “heady” questions related to improving the clinical diagnosis of traumatic brain injury. Ongoing work includes the design and application of novel molecular imaging probes for the detection of acute and chronic effects of traumatic brain injury. He is also involved with exploring novel ultrasound based approaches for the detection of traumatic brain injury. The goals of his work include determining whether military service members in this environment are at risk for development of mild traumatic brain injury and helping to establish safe stand off limits for low-level blast exposure.
Kovatchev Laboratory – The Artificial Pancreas
Stacey Anderson, MD, Assistant Professor of Research
Sue Brown, PhD., Associate Professor
Departments of Medicine, Endocrinology & Metabolism
The UVA Center for Diabetes Technology (CDT) is a multidisciplinary group of research academicians with specialties in Endocrinology and Metabolism, Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, System and Information Engineering, Pediatrics and Biomedical Engineering, working collaboratively for the advancement of technology for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes. Our group has developed the Diabetes Assistant, a portable artificial pancreas platform that runs on an everyday smart phone and can be monitored remotely. During the evening we will give a short presentation of our recent research. We will also demonstrate the DAs, how it interacts with a continuous glucose monitor and insulin pump to control blood sugar in diabetes, and how remote monitoring of the system can be used by research personnel or care partners to provide safety to patients with diabetes.
Yeager Laboratory – Seeing is Believing: Visualization from Atoms to Organisms
Mark Yeager, MD, PhD., Chair, Department of Molecular Physiology & Biological Physics
The ability to visualize, whether in your mind's eye or in reality, is a fundamental process for understanding just about anything. Related to biomedical research, the Yeager laboratory uses a range of biophysical methods to visualize the "bricks and mortar" of living systems – proteins, nucleic acids, cells, tissues and organs. Ultimately, the ability to visualize the engines, gears and levers that comprise the molecular machines within our cells provides crucial insight that informs normal physiology and how this goes awry in diseases.
In this Mini-Med class participants will be exposed to examples of visualization using electron microscopy, X-ray crystallography and magnetic resonance imaging. The examples span diseases ranging from heart attacks and heart failure, pathogenic viruses like HIV, and channels within the heart that are necessary for the occurrence of every single heartbeat, as well as abnormal heart rhythms that cause sudden death -- on average about every 90 seconds.
The didactic presentation will be followed by a tour of the Snyder Translational Science Building and the instruments used for our experiments.
Slack-Davis Laboratory – Mechanisms that Regulate Ovarian Cancer Metastasis
Jill Slack-Davis, PhD., Assistant Professor, Department of Microbiology
The Slack-Davis lab studies ovarian cancer, a disease that affects about 23,000 women a year and results in about 16,000 deaths. The majority of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have metastatic disease, which is virtually incurable. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms that regulate ovarian cancer metastasis and are particularly interested in the communication between the tumor cells and other non-cancer cells at the metastatic site. Understanding the contribution of the ‘tumor microenvironment’ to ovarian cancer metastasis provides additional therapeutic opportunities to treat women with this disease. During your visit, you will view ovarian cancer cells growing in culture and learn about the techniques we use to study the interaction between the tumor cells and their environment.
Stacey Guillot, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Research/Assistant Director, Advanced Microscopy Facility
The Advanced Microscopy Facility (AMF) is a core user and service facility sponsored in part by the School of Medicine. The AMF was established in 1979 and currently offers research support to an average of 250 investigators annually. The AMF houses several confocal microscopes, a multi-photon microscope, a transmission electron microscope, and a new field emission scanning electron microscope. We provide individual consultations and offer training on all of our state of the art instrumentation, as well as ancillary preparatory equipment for electron microscopy. We work with investigators to develop imaging experiments best suited to help answer their specifics questions.