Fabiola Munarin, PhD is currently an Assistant Professor of Engineering (Research) at Brown University, School of Engineering. She obtained her PhD in Bioengineering cum laude from Politecnico di Milano, Italy, in 2011. Her research interests are directed towards the use of natural polymers to design 3-dimensional systems for tissue regeneration and neovascularization.
She was visiting researcher at Instituto de Engenharia Biomédica, Porto (Portugal) from 2009 to 2010, where she was trained in the use of stem cells for regenerative medicine.
She joined Brown University in 2014 as a Post-Doctoral fellow in the Coulombe Laboratory, and widened her expertise to translational research, investigating vascularization, arrhythmia risk and electrical integration of epicardially implanted engineered human cardiac tissues in ischemia/reperfusion models.
Dr. Munarin received the Altran Foundation price “Bioengineering and stem cells” (2012), the European Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering Doctoral Award (2013) and the Materials Science and Engineering C Young Researcher Award (2014). She is secretary of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society – Providence Section, Editorial Board Member of Science Progress (Sage Publishing) and peer review panelist for the American Heart Association Bioengineering-Basic Science (BSc3) group.
Her current research interest involves the development of smart biomaterials and delivery systems to leverage the activation of the cells of the immune system for promoting angiogenesis in ischemic tissues. Her research has been supported by the CardioPulmonary Vascular Biology COBRE Pilot Project and by the Rhode Island Foundation Medical Research Grants.
Ischemic diseases, including coronary artery disease, stroke, peripheral artery disease and mastectomy skin flap necrosis are severe conditions characterized by the reduction of blood flow in the arteries, that result in the dysfunction and death of tissues. Primary prevention, rapid diagnosis and acute treatments, that generally involve surgery or medications to improve the blood flow, are nowadays the main goals for ischemia therapy, however a long-term revascularization treatment has yet to be found.
The overall objective of this project is to develop smart and functional biomaterials for the controlled release of pleiotrophin, a potent pro-angiogenic cytokine, to instruct the host to direct regeneration and repair in ischemic tissues. For this project, we have identified pleiotrophin as the target multifunctional factor to stimulate pro-angiogenic responses in different cell types, beyond just endothelial cells. In vitro assays, conducted with human peripheral blood and primary endothelial cells isolated from ischemic rat skin, will assess the extent and dynamics of immune-modulation, the change in immune cell phenotypes and the effects of pleiotrophin on the cross-talk between monocytes and endothelial cells. Endothelial cell morphogenesis will be evaluated in vivo with the Matrigel® plug assay, and optimized therapeutics will be implanted in ischemic wounds in a rat ischemic skin flap model. Revascularization and tissue regeneration will be assessed with immunohistochemistry and laser Doppler imaging at short (1-4 d) and long (1 mo) time stages. If successful, this project will develop novel strategies providing potential benefits for the development of long-term treatments for ischemia and, more broadly, for advancing the fields of immune and vascular tissue engineering.
I will be presenting a poster entitled “Engineering Smart Biomaterials with Immunomodulatory Cues for Revascularization Therapy”, authors: L. Freda, N. Bloise, K.L.K. Coulombe, L. Visai, F. Munarin at the BMES 2019 annual meeting, Philadelphia.
Ocean State Research Institute
Providence VA Medical Center
830 Chalkstone Avenue
Providence RI 02908
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Research reported in this website was supported by the National Institute of General Medical Science of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103652.