DONALD P. GAVER
Alden J. “Doc” Laborder Professor and Department Chair
of Biomedical Engineering
Dr. Gaver directs research in Tulane’s Biofluid Mechanics Laboratory, which aims to develop an understanding of the interrelationship between the mechanical and physicochemical behavior of biological systems. These investigations focus on the pulmonary system with the goal of developing improved therapies for pulmonary diseases such as infant and acute respiratory distress syndrome (RDS and ARDS) and the prevention of ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI). At present, his research focuses on study of the dynamic interplay between transport processes, interfacial phenomena and fluid stresses that alter the pulmonary epithelial structure and function during respiratory distress. In addition, his research extends to the design of optimized microfluidic devices for biosensor technology. These integrated studies bring together basic and applied scientists (including computational scientists), device developers and physicians to study problems of high clinical importance.
JOHN D. CLEMENTS
Professor and Department Chair of Microbiology & Immunology
Director of the Tulane Center for Infectious Disease Research
Co-Director of the Louisiana Vaccine Center
Recently, a great deal of effort has been directed towards replacement of existing whole cell or formalin inactivated vaccines with subunit vaccines that may be safer and more effective than existing vaccines. Still other efforts are directed at developing alternatives to traditional vaccine delivery, including mucosal and transcutaneous delivery.
Mucosally and transcutaneously delivered vaccines offer a number of potential advantages over traditional vaccines including 1) the potential to confer mucosal as well as systemic immunity, 2) increased stability, 3) increased shelf-life, and 4) elimination of needles and the need for specially trained healthcare specialists to administer vaccines.
Dr. Clements's Vaccine Research Laboratory is developing powerful new techniques for vaccination against bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases, including novel adjuvants (substances that enhance the immune response to foreign antigens) and delivery systems (nanocarriers for vaccine delivery).
Pendergraft William Larkin Duren Professor of Mathematics
Director of the Tulane Center for Computational Science
Many different types of microorganisms, such as bacteria, generate interesting fluid flow around them as they move their flagella in helical or undulatory ways. As measuring devices become more accurate in the laboratories, researchers are able to observe intricate flows generated by either single or multiple organisms. New flow patterns have been observed when organisms are near a flat surface like the bottom plate of the microscope. Computational models of these flows provide additional insight into how these flows arise, what they might look like in the space between organisms, and the role they might play in the overall motion of swarms of organisms. Similar techniques are also applied to the motion of cilia or passive organism appendages.
Prof. Cortez’s research focuses on developing and analyzing computational methods for the simulation of biological flows. Of particular interest are collaborative investigations of flows generated by swimming microorganisms, cilia, and other compliant, flexible boundaries in a fluid with an emphasis on accurate simulations around the boundaries.
VIJAY T. JOHN
Leo S. Weil Professor of Engineering for Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Prof. John works in the highly interdisciplinary areas of lipid self-assembly, drug and vaccine delivery, and the development of nanostructured materials. The self-organization of amphiphilic molecules (such as biological lipids and synthetic surfactants) is essential in technologies as mundane as consumer detergent products and those of the future as in the development of structured, responsive nanomaterials. Prof. John is currently working on a project to exploit lipid self-assembly to induce transcutaneous vaccine delivery. This is part of a larger grand challenge problem being addressed by researchers at Tulane’s Medical School and the School of Science and Engineering. Prof. John also works in the area of developing polymer films as coatings for drug delivery. He also carries out research in biolubrication using novel biologically compatible materials that exhibit very low frictional coefficients.
Prof. John is also the Scientific Advisor to a startup company that originated from research within his laboratory on carbon microspheres with nanoscale Zero Valent Iron (nZVI). The patented NanoFex particles travel with groundwater, breaking down contaminants like arsenic, chlorinated solvents and heavy metals into harmless carbon dioxide and water in a significantly more economical and effective way than comparative industry standards. (http://nanofexllc.com/)
L. GABRIEL NAVAR
Professor and Department Chair of Physiology
Co-director of the Tulane Renal and Hypertension Center of Excellence
Dr. Navar, professor and chair of the Tulane Department of Physiology, is a co-director of the Tulane Renal and Hypertension Center of Excellence in the School of Medicine. The center, which houses several state-of-the-art core facilities – including an Animal & Gene-Targeted Core, a Molecular, Imaging, & Analytical Core and a Mouse Phenotyping Core – provides unique research opportunities in an enriched environment where basic science discoveries can be translated to the clinical arena. Researchers from various departments across Tulane University collaborate under Dr. Navar’s guidance on patient-oriented studies of the causes and treatment of hypertension. In his own laboratory, investigations focus on hormonal and paracrine mechanisms that regulate renal hemodynamics, glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and sodium excretion. Intense activity is also focused on the pathophysiology of hypertension and the role of the intrarenal renin angiotensin system (RAS) in altering kidney function to lead to in angiotensin II dependent hypertension. These studies have revealed much about hypertension and paved the way for more accurate methods to assess the efficacy of medications in patients, which is vital to preempting serious complications of the disorder such as organ damage.
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