SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Joshua Hooks
TIME: Friday, September 9, 2016, 1:00 p.m.
PLACE: Engineered Biosystems Building, 1005
TITLE: Role of Mechanical Microenvironment on the Regulation of Lymphatic Function and Health
COMMITTEE: Dr. J. Brandon Dixon, Chair (ME)
Dr. Andres Garcia (ME)
Dr. C. Ross Ethier (BME)
Dr. Michael Davis (BME)
Dr. Mariappan Muthuchamy (MP)


The lymphatic system plays a critical role in maintaining fluid homeostasis in all of the soft tissue of the body. Through its role in fluid transport, it also plays a role in the transport of immune cells, lipids, and exosomes. Its ability to transport interstitial fluid and proteins is dependent on contractions and dilations of vessels induced by either external factors, such as nearby skeletal muscle contraction, or the intrinsic pumping capacity of lymphatic smooth muscle cells.

Failure of lymph fluid transport plays an important role in pathologies, such as lymphedema and lymphacele after organ donation. Recently, our lab has shown that lymphatic collecting vessels near an injury never return to pre-injury levels of pumping and lymph transport, but factors that impact collecting vessel phenotype are poorly understood. The central hypothesis of this work is that the components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and mechanics of the lymphatic microenvironment play a central role in the contractile phenotype of lymphatic muscle cells (LMCs). The testing of this hypothesisis will be accomplished through two primary aims; the first is to independently manipulate the microenvironment of cultured lymphatic collecting vessels and the second is to alter loading of lymphatic muscle cell cultures.