Henry J. Donahue, Ph.D
Professor and Chair
Dr. Donahue is the College of Engineering Foundation Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University. He received his Ph.D. in Biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Mayo Clinic. He has over 25 years of experience studying musculoskeletal biology, using both in vitro and in vivo models. His research focuses on understanding the mechanism by which bone and muscle adapt to their mechanical environment; examining the effects of space flight on musculoskeletal tissues and exploiting biophysical signals, including shear stress and nanotopography, to develop innovative strategies to regenerate musculoskeletal tissue lost to disease, injury or ageing. His research has been continually funded by the National Institutes of Health for over 25 years and he has also had funding from the Department of Defense, NASA/National Space Biology Research Institute, private foundations and industry. Dr. Donahue is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
Phone: (804) 828-7958
Yue Zhang, Ph.D
Research Associate Professor
Phone: (804) 828-0870
Seyed Mohsen Latifi, Ph.D
Seyed Mohsen Latifi received his bachelors in Materials Science and Engineering from Iran University of Science & Technology and his Masters in Materials Engineering from Isfahan University of Technology. During this period, his research mostly focused on fabrication and characterization of nanobioceramics and nanobiocomposites for bone applications. He then received his PhD degree in Biomaterials at Isfahan University of Technology. His dissertation focused on optimization of a drug delivering injectable thermosensitive scaffold for bone regeneration. After that, he joined the Donahue’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow where he is highly interested in design and fabrication of advanced biomaterials, nanobiomaterials, and tissue engineering.
Michael A Friedman, Ph.D
Michael is a postdoctoral fellow who received his PhD and Masters in biomedical engineering from Michigan University. Michael received his bachelor’s degree from University of Texas at Austin in biomedical engineering as well. His research focuses on interactive effects of exercise and nutrition on the musculoskeletal system. He interest is in studying ways to maximize bone mass and bone strength as well as ways of preventing bone loss from disuse or disease
Evan Buettmann, Ph.D
BME Postdoctoral Fellow
Evan is a postdoctoral researcher in the BEST Lab who previously received his PhD and Master’s in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis. There he worked in Matthew Silva’s Mechanobiology Laboratory looking at the role of osteoblast lineage cells and VEGFA in coordinating osteogenic and angiogenic processes necessary for fracture healing. Before that Evan received his B.S. in Biological Engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His current interests in the BEST Lab involve understanding how gap junctions and space related effects such as unloading and radiation affect bone mechanosensing and repair following injury.
Otto (OJ) Juhl
BME Ph.D. Student
Otto (OJ) is a Ph.D student studying biomedical engineering under Dr. Donahue at VCU. His undergraduate degree was from the University of Delaware in 2016 in biomedical engineering as well. His current research focuses on the effects of nanotopography and the role different topographies play in bone healing and remodeling for use in synthetic composite grafts. Additionally he using 3D printing to create grafts with different topographical features for use in vivo to examine if healing can be improved with a specified topography to eliminate the current pitfalls of long segmental bone grafting techniques.
Camilla Reina Maroni
BME Ph.D. Student
Camilla Reina is a visiting Ph.D student from University of Chieti-Pescara “G. D’Annunzio” in Italy. She joined the lab in 2018 for 18 months. Camilla Reina’s research interests include muscle adaptation in vivo and in vitro to simulated microgravity conditions for space flight and clinical unloading applications.
BME Ph.D. Student
Rachel is a Ph.D. student studying biomedical engineering under Dr. Donahue at VCU. Her undergraduate degree was from the University of Florida in 2018 in biomedical engineering as well. Her current research involves studying the endocannabinoid system, particularly the CB2 receptor, and how it can be used to enhance osteoblastic differentiation. Her future plans include using cannbidiol, and loading it to a biocompatible scaffold to be used for in vivo studies.
BME M.S. Student
Kevin Parsons is a Master’s student studying Biomedical Engineering under Dr. Henry Donahue at VCU. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2015. Kevin is researching the effects of both radiation and microgravity on bone density and musculoskeletal adaptation.
BME Undergraduate Student
Chris is a senior in the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate program at VCU. Has been working in the B.E.S.T. Lab since June of 2016. His current project involves using fluid flow induced shear stress to mechanically load osteocytic cells to determine variations in gene expression as well as factors affecting mechanotransduction. Chris is a member of the national engineering honor society Tau Beta Pi and has completed an internship at MIT in the summer of 2017 as part of the Amgen Scholars Program where he conducted research involving the design and fabrication of electrophysiological neural recording devices and porous scaffolds designed to guide axonal growth.
CLSE Undergraduate Student
Anna is an undergrad student from the Chemical and Life Science department. She joined the B.E.S.T lab during her junior year to get involved with research. Anna’s research interests include biomaterial design and its in vivo effects. Thus far, Anna has been the lead undergraduate researcher on a hydrogel collaboration with Penn State University.
BME Undergraduate Student
Caleb Ryan is an undergraduate student in his sophomore year, majoring in biomedical engineering. He has been working in the B.E.S.T. lab since August 2018. He became interested in the lab while shadowing during the summer of 2018. He is interested in biomaterials.