Brown University School of Engineering

Engineering Seminar: Biomedical Engineering

Thursday, January 16, 2020

9:00am - 10:00am

School of Engineering

Barus and Holley, 190

Daniel Abebayehu, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Matrix Biology and Engineering Lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Virginia, will present a talk: “Inflammatory Cytokines Induce Unique Immuno-Fibroblast Subpopulations Prone to Myofibroblastic Differentiation.”

Abstract: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal disease with no clear pathogenesis or cure. It is characterized by chronic inflammatory cell infiltration, elevated inflammatory cytokines, myofibroblast accumulation, and aberrant extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling. Fibroblastic foci, the regions of active fibrogenesis in the lung, are characterized by fibroblasts displaying aberrant mechanotransduction, myofibroblastic differentiation, and matrix remodeling. However, a central question and critical gap in our knowledge with most fibrotic diseases is how chronic inflammation relates to aberrant mechanotransduction. In this presentation, I will show that by using single cell RNA-Sequencing, inflammatory cytokines alter fibroblast heterogeneity and promote the emergence of a unique fibroblast subpopulation that corresponds to expression profiles among fibroblasts within fibroblastic foci. Additionally, inflammatory cytokine treatment also promotes dysregulated cell contractility and focal adhesion formation, implicating an immuno-stromal axis that bridges inflammation and mechanotransduction.

Bio: Dr. Daniel Abebayehu is an NIH NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Virginia in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. His research, under the mentorship of Tom Barker, is focused on identifying how inflammatory cytokines alter fibroblast heterogeneity and how that contributes to fibrosis. He received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University. His graduate research in John Ryan’s lab focused on altering scaffold architecture and polymer composition in order to modulate innate immune cell responses to dampen inflammation and enhance angiogenesis. He received his Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia.