Biomedical Engineering

P.E.O. Scholar Award Winner Tissue Engineers Better TMJ Discs

Gina MacBarb

UC Davis Biomedical Engineering graduate student Gina MacBarb is one of 66 doctoral students nationwide selected to receive a $15,000 2013-2014 Scholar Award from P.E.O. International. P.E.O. is a philanthropic educational organization that provides financial aid for the education of women.

An engineered TMJ disc. Photo credit: Gina MacBarb

As part of the Athanasiou Musculoskeletal Bioengineering Laboratory, Gina is pursuing a project that uses the Lab’s self-assembly process to tissue engineer a biomimetic temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disc clinical product to repair and/or replace discs damaged by injury or disease. Thus far, Gina has optimized a bioactive treatment regimen that increases the functional properties of the engineered tissue closer to those of native tissue. She has recently generated shape-specific constructs that capture the anatomical geometry of the native TMJ disc, and is pursuing the use of mechanical stimulation in combination with the bioactive agents to produce a tissue displaying the spectrum of mechanical properties recapitulative of native TMJ discs.

In addition to research and academics, Gina participates in educational outreach events with the Biomedical Engineering Student Association (BESA). Through BESA, Gina has established a mentorship program for undergraduate students to receive advice and guidance from BME graduate students in successfully navigating through college.

Gina’s long-term career goal is to drive the creation of critical life-saving technologies and help revolutionize regenerative medicine solutions. In line with this goal, she has recently co-founded a university-based startup, ViVita Technologies Inc., which is focused on generating a novel heart valve replacement that will last a patient’s lifetime.

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