Julia joined the the Ahearne lab at TCBE in October 2015 as a PhD student to examine the influence of biochemical factors on corneal cell behaviour and scaffold design. She received a Bachelor Degree in Human Biology from Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. She graduated from the Technical University of Dresden where she obtained her Master in Science in Molecular Bioengineering.
Project: Influence of biochemical factors on corneal cell behaviour and scaffold design
Chemical and biochemical signalling molecules are key regulators of cellular activity and can be used to enhance the repair and regenerative capacities of corneal tissues. To successfully develop scaffolds suitable for corneal regeneration, appropriate chemical cues need to be present. In this project, a comprehensive investigation is being undertaken to examine the effect that specific chemical and biochemical cues have on corneal cell behaviour. In particular, the temporal and spatial chemical cues that result in controlled cell migration in a particular direction (chemotaxis and durotaxis), cell proliferation and extracellular matrix remodelling are under investigation. Once these biochemical factors have been identified, they will be incorporated into scaffolds to test their ability to influence cell behaviour and regenerate cornea. Techniques such real-time PCR, western blotting and immunohistochemical staining are being used to assess cell behaviour while as SEM, biochemical assays and mechanical testing are being used to assess the scaffold properties. The outcome of this research will enhance out understanding of corneal cell behavior and provide a new generation of scaffolds for corneal repair.