Our research focuses on degeneration and regeneration of musculoskeletal soft tissues, primarily the intervertebral disc in the spine. Using tools of bioengineering, we study the biomechanics and mechanobiology of cells and tissues, with emphasis on degradation processes and inflammation. We also collaborate with physicians in the Departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine, to develop biomarkers of intervertebral disc disorders and back pain.
We are grateful for the funding support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), New York State Department of Health (ECRIP program), and the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM).
- Inflammation and Disc Degeneration
- Disc Cell Mechanobiology and Disease
- Biomarkers of Degeneration and Back Pain
- Engineering Regenerative Strategies for Musculoskeletal Tissues
Quynhhoa 'Hoa' Nguyen, PhD
Associate Research Scientist
Research Interests: cell biomechanics and stem cell differentiation. Hoa received her PhD degree in Bioengineering at University of California, San Diego in the lab of Prof. Robert Sah. Her thesis' title is "Biomechanics and Mechanobiology of Articular Cartilage Repair" which evaluated alteration in biomechanical behaviors of cartilage in the presence of focal defect. She also showed that treating the defect with hydrogel could restore this mechanical function. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with her kids.
Samantha Marshall, PhD
Post Doctoral Scientist
Research Interests: tissue engineering and 3D printing. Samantha received her PhD degree in Mechanical Engineering under the mentorship of Prof. W. Gregory Sawyer from the University of Florida. Her dissertation titled “Microgels for In Vitro Three-Dimensional Cancer Models” developed and then investigated a method for directly 3D printing cancer cells into microgels for long-term microtumor culture. This method has been implemented at UF for chemotherapeutic dose-response curves in 3D. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and watching (and trying to do) gymnastics.
Yarsolov (Jacob) Gelfand, MD
Jacob is a Neurosurgery resident with an interest in minimally invasive spine. He received his medical degree from Weill Cornell Medical College, and continued to Montefiore Medical Center of Albert Einstein College of Medicine for residency. After recently having a baby, his interests include sleeping, sleeping, and sleeping.
Timothy Jacobsen, M.Eng
Graduate student (Ph.D. program) in Biomedical Engineering
Research Interests: mechanobiology, mechanotransduction, cell and tissue engineering, 3D printing. Timothy received a Bachelors and Masters Degree in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) (2014). Tim is an associate member of the Orthopedic Research Society (ORS), the ORS Spine Section, and the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). He has been recognized for his research as an ORS Spine Section and Philadelphia Spine Research Symposium (PSRS), Poster Competition Award winner (2018, 2017) and was highlighted in the ORS Spine Section Member Spotlight (2018). Tim’s research focuses on the study of intervertebral disc cell mechanics and the effect of inflammation on cell mechanics. In his personal life he is a proud Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America as well as a volunteer firefighter. Tim’s PhD Student stress relief tactics include golfing, cooking, brewing, camping, trying to make a tour of all 31 NHL team stadiums with his Fiancé (GO RANGERS!), and exploring craft breweries.
Kevin Burt, B.S.
Graduate Student (Ph.D. program) in Biomedical Engineering
Research Interests: cell and tissue engineering, mechanotransduction, role of inflammation in intervertebral disc degeneration. Kevin is a Columbia MS/PhD biomedical engineering graduate student. He earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Montana State University (2016), where his research focused on the use of microbial activity for hazardous waste water remediation. Now at Columbia, Kevin is an associate member of the Orthopedic Research Society (ORS) and the ORS Spine section, and vice president of GraBME, an engineering graduate student organization. Outside of the lab Kevin enjoys exploring New York City and documenting it on Instagram.
Hayley Jacobsen, B.S.
Research Interests: Clinical biomarkers of back pain. Hayley holds a bachelor’s degree in health science from Gettysburg College (2016). She first joined the lab as a summer intern and is currently a research assistant working on clinical research studies. Hayley is an associate member of the Orthpaedic Research Society (ORS) and the ORS Spine section. In her personal life, Hayley volunteers as an emergency medical technician.
Undergraduate student (B.S. program) in Biomedical Engineering
Archana is a sophomore undergraduate at Columbia University. She is studying biomedical engineering and is enthusiastic about furthering her knowledge of this exciting field. She was born and raised in Minnesota and enjoys spending time outdoors. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, and being with her family and friends.