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Materials Science at Oregon State University

Regenerating the Intervertebral Disc: Developing Effective Therapies in a Nutrient Limited Environment

Date: Thursday, May 10th
Presenter: Prof. Morgan Giers, Bioengineering, Oregon State University


The intervertebral disc (IVD) is the largest avascular structure in the human body, so changes in disc structure and subsequent small changes in nutrient supply can threaten the survival of endogenous IVD cells as well as transplanted cells. As the cells die, the ability of the disc to remodel its extracellular matrix (ECM) declines and the disc degenerates. One of the major barriers to IVD regeneration strategies is creating an environment conducive to cell survival in a low-transport structure.
In this seminar I will show a multi-tiered approach to developing treatments for the intervertebral disc based on the stage of disc degeneration. Each approach studies potential molecular and biomechanical targets for IVD regeneration in the context of the nutrient deprived human IVD.

Morgan Giers is currently an Assistant Professor of Bioengineering at Oregon State University. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology (formerly University of Missouri-Rolla) in 2010 and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Arizona State University in 2013. She then started a postdoctoral fellowship at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. Dr. Giers is the recipient of an IRA A. Fulton Schools of Engineering Dean's Fellowship, the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Award, and the Jeannette Wilkins Award for Best Basic Science Paper at the Musculoskeletal Infection Society Annual Meeting. Dr. Giers has also authored grants awarded a Russian Science Foundation Research Grant, a Barrow Neurological Foundation Grant, and private donations for her team’s work. Her interdisciplinary work in drug delivery, transport phenomena, orthopedic surgery, and MRI imaging has been presented at over two dozen scientific meetings and in over a dozen peer reviewed journal articles. Recently her work has taken her as a visiting scholar to the Irkutsk Scientific Center of Surgery and Traumatology in Russia, the University of California San Francisco, and the University of Manchester in England.