Cristina Fernandez

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2017 - Postdoctoral Researcher with Ashutosh Chilkoti, Ph.D.

I grew up in Melbourne, Florida, a quiet beach town near Cape Canaveral.  I spent six wonderful years at the University of Florida, where along with developing a passion for SEC football, I earned a B.S. and an M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering.  I began my research career by completing an REU at Columbia University, where I studied the luminescence patterns of pentacene thin-films.  I took a greater interest in biomaterials through my undergraduate research experience in the Brennan lab at UF studying surface modifications of PDMS for endothelial cell capture.  This led to a summer internship at OrbusNeich Medical Technologies, where I assisted with surface treatments of coronary artery stents for EPC capture.  Afterward, I broadened my expertise in the cardiovascular field through completion of a Master’s thesis in the Batich lab at UF developing a bioactive coating for endovascular coils to treat cerebral aneurysms.

I began pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and joined the Reichert lab in 2010 with the hope of making further contributions to the field of interventional cardiovascular technology.  My research thus far has focused on the study of late outgrowth, peripheral blood-derived endothelial progenitor cells from coronary artery disease patients (CAD PB-EPCs) as a potential source of endothelium for tissue-engineered vascular grafts.  We have replicated the microenvironment between CAD PB-EPCs and human aortic smooth muscle cells using a 2D direct co-culture model and laminar shear stress.  Soon, I will expand to a 3D co-culture model involving an endothelialized small-diameter vascular construct to study the effect of the interactions between EPCs and mural cells toward enhancing the function of a tissue-engineered blood vessel in vitro.

Outside the lab, I enjoy rock climbing, baking, and quoting obscure pop culture references.

Contact Information:

  • Office Location: Fitzpatrick CIEMAS 1313
  • Office Phone: 919-660-5572
  • Email Address: