One collaboration involves Engler, Shu Chien, who is University Professor of Bioengineering and Medicine, and Director of UC San Diego's Institute of Engineering in Medicine (IEM), and materials science professor Sungho Jin from the Jacobs School of Engineering's Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) and NanoEngineering departments. In a January 2009 paper in the journal PNAS, researchers led by this team unveiled a new way to help accelerate bone growth through the use of nanotubes and stem cells. This new finding could lead to quicker and better recovery, for example, for patients who undergo orthopedic surgery.
Engler's lab recently began a collaboration with Rick Lieber, Ph.D., Professor and Vice Chair of UC San Diego's Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Director of the National Center for Skeletal Muscle Rehabilitation Research, based at UC San Diego. Lieber is also Senior Research Career Scientist at the Veterans Affairs San Diego Health System. The team is trying to uncover the cause of unexplained lower back pain in patients with no obvious disk degeneration, pinched nerves or other known causes of lower back pain.
"No matter what your area of expertise, there is someone that has a complementary area of expertise that can really help you ask new and interesting questions," said Engler.
Mathematicians, engineers and stem cell biologists have not traditionally worked together, but these kinds of interdisciplinary collaborations have been the key to developing new techniques and new disciplines, explained Engler, who told a story of how his own dabbling into interdisciplinary research led to fruitful results.
As a graduate student, Engler helped put an experimental stem-cell-based surgical technique into a more ap
|Contact: Daniel Kane|
University of California - San Diego