Biomedical Engineering

Alumni Seminar Series: Alesha Castillo, Ph.D. (VA Palo Alto Heathcare System)

“Skeletal Mechanobiology, Regeneration and Aging

Mechanical force is an important regulator of bone biology and plays a critical role in bone development, maintenance and regeneration. The structural success of the skeleton is due in large part to bone’s capacity to respond to the prevailing mechanical environment by optimizing its shape and size to meet physical demands. Mechanisms by which cells sense and respond to physical loading, a process known as mechanotransduction, are not well understood. Putative mechanoreceptors include ion channels, G-protein coupled receptors, integrins, cytoskeletal proteins and the primary cilium. Downstream signaling pathways involved in activating effector cells include cytokines and stem cell homing proteins. Genes critical for bone development (SDF-1, Wnt, Hh, Noggin, etc.) are equally important in adult and aged bone maintenance and turnover. Using in vivo and in vitro approaches, we study the regulation of these and other genes in response to mechanical stimuli and injury. In addition, we are applying similar techniques to study how mechanical forces regulate mesenchymal stem cell activation and stem cell fate decisions. The goal of these studies is to identify molecular targets for the prevention and treatment of bone conditions including osteoporosis, disuse bone loss and suboptimal fracture healing.

Dr. Castillo received her B.S. from Cal Poly in Materials Engineering. She then completed her M.S. and Ph.D (2004) in Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis.  Dr. Castillo is currently a Research Biomedical Engineer at the Center for Tissues Regeneration, Repair, and Restoration of the VA Palo Alto Heathcare System in Palo Alto, CA.  She has recently been involved in research focusing on the details surrounding the mechanics of load-induced bone formation.

When: Thursday 5/24/12 4:10 PM

Where: 1005 GBSF