The University of Pennsylvania Department of Bioengineering is proud to announce that our senior faculty member Beth Winkelstein, PhD, who is also Vice Provost for Education and the newly named Eduardo Glandt Presidential Professor, was elected as a councilor to the World Council of Biomechanics (WCB). In the words of Dominique Barthes-Biesel, PhD, Chair of the WCB, and Roger Kamm, PhD, Chair of the Nominating Committee, Dr. Winkelstein’s election comes in recognition of her “distinguished contributions to and leadership in the field of biomechanics at an international level.” The appointment will be recognized at the WCB General Assembly, to be held at the 8th World Congress of Biomechanics in Dublin, Ireland on July 8.
Instituted in 1990, the WCB is an international academic and professional forum of engineers and scientists from five continents. With her appointment, Dr. Winkelstein joins colleagues from MIT, Columbia, and Georgia Tech, among others. “I’m honored to be included as a representative among the impressive world leaders in biomechanics,” Dr. Winkelstein says, “and I look forward to helping shape the upcoming World Congresses and meetings.
The University of Pennsylvania Department of Bioengineering is proud to announce that our faculty member Beth Winkelstein, PhD, has been named the Eduardo Glandt Presidential Professor by the Penn School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). The endowed professorship is named for Eduardo D. Glandt, PhD, former Dean of SEAS and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering.
An undergraduate alumna of Penn, Dr. Winkelstein earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke in 1999. Recruited by Dr. Glandt himself, Dr. Winkelstein returned to Penn as a Bioengineering faculty member in 2002, with tenure and promotion to Associate Professor in 2007 and promotion to Professor in 2011. Beginning that same year, she has taken on a series of increasingly important administrative positions, first as Bioengineering Graduate Group Chair (2011-12), then as Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education in SEAS (2012-2015), and now as Vice Provost for Education (since 2015).
Dr. Winkelstein is the principal investigator at the Spine Pain Research Lab, which studies and seeks to better understand chronic pain syndromes. On the basis of her research, she has received multiple awards and honors, including the NSF Career Award, the Y.C. Fung Award from the American Association of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and election as a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the ASME. Most recently, Dr. Winkelstein was elected as a councilor in the World Council of Biomechanics.
“Receiving an endowed chair represents a recognition of an individual’s contributions to their field, their leadership, and the legacy of their trainees,” said David Meaney, PhD, Chair of the Bioengineering Department. “Beth’s research program continues to flourish, and her leadership in national societies grows constantly.”
Zhiliang Cheng, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, has received an R01 grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to study chronic pain. The grant, which provides nearly $1.7 million over the next five years, will support the work of Dr. Cheng, Bioengineering Professor Andrew Tsourkas, and Vice Provost for Education and Professor Beth Winkelstein, in developing a novel nanotechnology platform for greater effectiveness in radiculopathy treatment.
Based on the idea that phospholipase-A2 (PLA2) enzymes, which modulate inflammation, play an important role in pain due to nerve damage, the group’s research seeks to develop PLA2-responsive multifunctional nanoparticles (PRMNs) that could both deliver anti-inflammatory drugs and magnetic resonance contrast agents to sites of pain so that the molecular mechanisms at work in producing chronic pain can be imaged, as well as allowing for the closer monitoring of treatment.
This research builds on previous findings by Drs. Cheng, Tsourkas, and Winkelstein. In a 2011 paper, Drs. Tsourkas and Winkelstein used superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles to enhance magnetic resonance imaging of neurological injury in a rat model. Based on the theory of reactive oxygen species playing a role in pain following neural trauma, a subsequent paper published in July with Sonia Kartha as first author and Dr. Cheng as a coauthor found that a type of nanoparticle called polymersomes could be used to deploy superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant, to sites of neuropathic pain. The current grant-supported study combines the technologies developed in the previous studies.
“To the best of our knowledge, no studies have sought to combine and/or leverage this aspect of the inflammatory and PLA2 response for developing effective pain treatment. We hypothesize that this theranostic agent, which integrates both diagnostic and therapeutic functions into a single system, offers a unique opportunity and tremendous potential for monitoring and treating patients with direct, clinically translational impact,” Dr. Cheng said.