Christine E. Schmidt, Ph.D., Pruitt Family Professor and chair of the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biological Engineering, has been named president-elect of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). Schmidt was inducted at AIMBE’s annual event held March 19-20, 2017 in Washington D.C. She will begin her term as president in 2018.
Members of AIMBE’s College Fellows are nominated each year by their peers and represent the top 2% of the medical and biological engineering community. Since AIMBE’s inception, over 2,000 esteemed individuals have been inducted. AIMBE’s College consists of clinicians, industry professionals, academics and scientists, who have distinguished themselves through their contributions in research, industrial practice and/or education. Fundamental to their achievements is the common goal of embracing innovation to improve the healthcare and safety of society.
Schmidt earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. She also earned her doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She conducted postdoctoral research at MIT as an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, joining the University of Texas at Austin Chemical Engineering faculty.
The 25th Anniversary Meeting of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), organized by Dr. Christine Schmidt, UF BME Pruitt Family Professor and Chair, in collaboration with Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic at Columbia University, was held in Washington, D.C. April 3-4, 2016. AIMBE is an honorific society, in which fellows are nominated each year by their peers and represent the top 2% of the medical and biological engineering community. AIMBE Fellows lay a foundation to advocate for public policy issues related to improving lives through medical and biological engineering.The annual meeting represents AIMBE’s premier gathering of the leaders in medical and biological engineering. This special anniversary meeting was focused on the future of innovation as well as looking back on 25 years of achievement. A record number of AIMBE Fellows attended the event and participated in the induction ceremony of new Fellows at the National Academy of Science. Many leaders in the field and past leadership of AIMBE were in attendance and highlighted in a special networking reception the night before the start of the meeting.
Nerve transplants from a patient’s own body have a major drawback: The area where the donor nerve is taken loses feeling. Cadaver nerves eliminate the need for a donor site, but faced some obstacles of their own. A thousand miles apart, two scientists were tackling those hurdles from two different angles. UF biomedical engineer Christine Schmidt – then with the University of Texas at Austin – had discovered how to strip away the parts of the donor nerve that spurred an immune response without destroying the nerve’s microarchitecture. In Gainesville, UF pediatrician and neuroscientist David Muir had figured out how to remove the components that inhibited the nerve’s regeneration. Together, the two breakthroughs made it possible to transplant cadaver nerves. There was just one problem.
“It was too applied,” Schmidt explained. “It wasn’t exciting to the scientific community.”
Schmidt feared the discovery had hit a dead end. There wouldn’t be any big grants to take the finding from the lab to the operating room, where millions of patients like Pincus needed it.
“If inventions don’t get into a clinic or the commercial sector, in a sense, what’s the point?” Schmidt said.
A Celebration of Innovation, UF’s 10th annual startup showcase, took place at the Hilton Hotel on March 8, 2016. A Celebration of Innovation highlighted many startup companies commercializing the latest life science, medical device and cutting-edge technologies generated as a result of the more than $700 million in research conducted annually at UF. As part of this event, UF BME Industry Partner AxoGen was featured in a panel discussion “Making a Difference: The Innovation Life Cycle” that described the steps to successfully take a product from concept to the clinic. Dr. Schmidt, Pruitt Family Professor and Department Chair of UF BME, presented in the panel as one of the inventors of the technology that led to the development of AxoGen’s Avance Nerve Graft.
Pruitt Family Professor and Department Chair, Dr. Christine E. Schmidt, is a co-author of a manuscript highlighted as one of the cover features for a recent issue of Macromolecular Rapid Communications. Macromolecular Rapid Communications (Impact Factor = 4.941) is a well-known biweekly peer-reviewed scientific journal from Wiley-VCH covering the field of polymer science. Schmidt’s co-authors include Dr. David Kaplan of Tufts University, Dr. John Hardy who is now at Lancaster University, and student researchers from the University of Florida and the University of Texas at Austin.
Dr. Christine Schmidt and her research team, along with her collaborator Dr. Hideko Kasahara (Physiology, COM), were awarded a UF Research Opportunity Seed Fund entitled “Engineering Tissue Mimics to Investigate Congenital Heart Disease.” The overarching goal of this proposal is to engineer cardiac tissue mimics to investigate the role biophysical and biochemical cues play in the progression of congenital heart disease. Congenital cardiac anomalies are the most prevalent birth defects, affecting over 1% of live births; however, the mechanisms underlying cardiac maldevelopments in embryos are largely unknown. Specific mutations of the Nkx2-5 gene in humans can cause a variety of malformations with widely varied cardiac symptoms from mild (near-normal function) to severe (heart failure). This variation in symptoms suggests non-genetic (epigenetic) factors in utero play a key role in aggravating the disease progression and severity. This work will use Dr. Kasahara’s Nkx2-5 knock-in mouse model in conjunction with Dr. Schmidt’s expertise in creation of tuned biomaterials to investigate the effects of biophysical and biochemical cues on severity of disease pathology both in vitro and in vivo.
Congratulations to Professor Christine Schmidt for a recent invitation to join the Editorial Board for the Journal of Neural Engineering. Dr. Schmidt joins Dr. Bruce Wheeler, also from the University of Florida, who is one of the inaugural board members for the journal.
The Journal of Neural Engineering serves as a forum for the interdisciplinary field of neural engineering where neuroscientists, neurobiologists and engineers publish their work in one periodical that bridges the gap between neuroscience and engineering. The journal publishes articles in the field of neural engineering at the molecular, cellular and systems levels. Dr. Schmidt’s research is focused on engineering novel materials and therapeutic systems to stimulate damaged peripheral and spinal neurons to regenerate.
Helping the body regrow nerves: Dr. Schmidt’s research on nerve repair scaffolds is featured on Science Nation, the National Science Foundation’s online video magazine that examines breakthroughs and the possibilities for new discoveries.
Combat, cancer and accidents — all can cause devastating nerve injuries. Sometimes, the body heals on its own.
“Your peripheral nerves, the ones in the arms and the face, have an inherent ability to regenerate, but only under ideal circumstances,” says University of Florida biomedical engineer Christine Schmidt.
With support from the National Science Foundation, Schmidt and her team are working to restore nerve function when injuries are more complicated. Surgeons can sometimes move a nerve from one part of a patient’s body to another. Schmidt has developed a method that grafts cadaver tissue onto the damaged area to act as a scaffold for nerves to re-grow themselves.
The Summer 2013 issue of the Explore Magazine highlights the research efforts of five faculty members from the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Florida: Drs. Wesley Bolch, Jon Dobson, Huabei Jiang, Christine Schmidt and Ranganatha Sitaram.
The article, “Engineering Better Health: UF Scientists Are Applying Engineering Principles To Medical Problems” by Cindy Spence, highlights just some of the remarkable biomedical engineering research being performed at the University of Florida. This research encompasses the use of magnetic nanoparticles to control stem cell growth and differentiation, the development of novel imaging methods to diagnose diseases such as epilepsy, the creation of computational models to help physicians guide radiation exposure for diagnostic tests, the development of non-invasive methods to collect brain signals and correlate these signals to emotions and physical movements, and the utilization of chemical processing methods to preserve human nerve tissue. This research is having significant clinical impact as well, as illustrated by one example below.
Dr. Christine Schmidt, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS http://www.aaas.org/), the world’s largest general scientific society and the publisher of the journal Science. “AAAS fellows are elected by their peers, and fewer than 1 percent of the association’s members are elected each year. Fellows are selected for their efforts to advance science or scientific applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished.” New AAAS Fellows will be inducted in Boston on February 16, 2013 during the AAAS Annual Meeting.
The J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering is exceptionally pleased to welcome Dr. Christine Schmidt as the incoming Chair of the Department.
The Cockrell School of Engineering has honored Professor Christine E. Schmidt as a Distinguished Engineering Graduate, the highest honor bestowed on alumni.
Recipients are graduates of the Cockrell School who have presented themselves to the world as consummate professionals, dedicated engineers, and strong supporters of engineering education.