NIH Funds Liu’s Research

Wendy LiuAug. 30, 2017 - Wendy Liu, associate professor of biomedical engineering, has won a $275,000 National Institutes of Health grant in support of her research to improve wound healing.

Liu is looking at the behavior of macrophages, specialized cells in the immune system that respond to an infection or injury. Macrophages are essential regulators of the wound-healing process, involved in both advancing inflammation and promoting tissue repair. In addition, these cells play a major role in the progression of numerous pathologies, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and the immune response to biomaterial implants.

“Impaired wound healing in response to traumatic injury, surgery or in disease remains a significant clinical challenge,” explains Liu. In this research, she proposes using molecular tools and biomaterial systems to alter the mechanical interactions of macrophages and see how these changes result in modulating the cells’ function. “Our long-term goal is to better understand regulation of macrophages by their microenvironment during wound healing, in order to develop new strategies to control their function after injury and in disease.”

The two-year NIH grant is an exploratory developmental grant, given to encourage the development of new research activities in specific program areas. Liu is collaborating on the research project with Elliot Botvinick, biomedical engineering; David Fruman, molecular biology and biochemistry; and Maksim Plikus, developmental and cell biology.

– Lori Brandt