Biomedical Engineering

Departmental Seminar Series: Jennifer Munson

“Interstitial Flow in the Tumor Microenvironment: Contributions to Cancer Invasion and Progression”

Cancer invasion and metastasis are major obstacles to successful therapeutic response. There are many contributing factors to the progression of cancer towards metastasis, including interactions with the surrounding microenvironment. Biophysical factors such as interstitial flow, mediated by increased drainage from the tumor, and matrix stiffening, mediated by activated fibroblasts, yield increased invasion of cancer cells and metastasis. In this talk, I will present data showing the role of interstitial flow in brain cancer invasion. I will provide evidence for a chemokine (CXCL12)-mediated mechanism, involving both increased cell motility and autologous chemotaxis, using in vitro 3D models of the tumor microenvironment. In order to understand the role of interstitial flow in vivo, I will present data involving manipulation of lymphangiogenesis in breast and skin cancer to alter drainage. Using these models, I will show support for a hypothesis that increased lymphangiogenesis is tightly linked to fibroblast-mediated stromal stiffening in the tumor and draining lymph node which is largely mediated by the growth factor TGFβ. I will discuss the implications of this research and generally interstitial flow and its effects on the stroma in cell-cell communication and immune response.


Jennifer Munson earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering and Neuroscience from Tulane University in 2006, receiving the Samuel L. Sullivan Award for Service and Scholarship. After working at Genentech for one year, she attended Georgia Tech in the Bioengineering Program. She focused her research on targeting brain cancer invasion to enhance chemotherapeutic efficacy with funding from the National Science Foundation. During her time at Georgia Tech, she spent one year as a Fulbright Scholar in Switzerland to further expand her knowledge of the tumor microenvironment. She received her Ph.D. in 2011 and is now working as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne as a Whitaker Scholar.

When:  Monday, 4/1/13 4:10 PM

Where: 1005 GBSF