OUR MISSION IS TO LEVERAGE BIOMATERIAL DESIGN FOR IMMUNE CELL TUNING AND DISEASE MODELING
Our creed is to be collaborative, innovative, and passionate.
Find updates on our recent publications in Google Scholar. If you cannot access any of our publications, please email moore.erika[at]ufl.edu and we will provide a copy!
HOW DO BIOMATERIALS INFORM B CELL FUNCTION?
While other immune cells are well characterized in their response to biomaterials, this work was the first to characterize how biomaterials influence B cells following injury! We leveraged muscle injury models in mice and compared natural (ECM) vs. synthetic (PCL) biomaterial responses.
MACROPHAGES IN AGING
As humans age, the immune system loses functionality which causes complications in response to infection, wound healing, and increased risk of vascular disease. We model the effects of age on macrophage function in the vasculature by encapsulating human macrophages from elderly (>65) or young (<35) donors with vascular cells in our PEG hydrogel system. We currently are evaluating the differences in age, and will also look to evaluate the influence of sex of macrophage donors as well.
CHARACTERIZING MONOCYTES FROM SYSTEMIC LUPUS ERYTHEMATOSUS (SLE)
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a serious autoimmune disease that disproportionately affects women and people of African descent. There are several factors that contribute to the increased risk of SLE in women compared to men, but the mechanisms by which race/ancestry is associated with SLE risk are less well understood. We are characterizing inflammatory properties of immune cells from SLE patients and healthy individuals in order to see whether race/ancestry affects SLE-associated changes.
DESIGNING BIFUNCTIONAL BIOMATERIALS TO DIRECT MACROPHAGE ACTIVATION
We are designing 3D polyethylene glycol (PEG)-based hydrogels using ECM-derived peptides to inform cell function via integrin mediation. We aim to control the activation of pro-inflammatory macrophages to prevent chronic inflammation and have designed a biomaterial for the same. Further, we are designing bifunctional biomaterials to promote vessel formation in the macrophage inhibiting hydrogel.
INVESTIGATING MICROGRAVITY EFFECTS ON MACROPHAGE ACTIVATION
In partnership with Dr. Josephine Allen, we investigate the influence of microgravity on macrophage function. We leverage microgravity simulators and molecular biology to characterize macrophage cell function as a result of alterations in gravity.