Maria-Louisa received her bachelor's and master's degrees from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT and her PhD in Medical and Mechanical Engineering through the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
Maria-Louisa has developed an elegantly simple ex vivo liver perfusion system that is capable of completely recovering function in ischemically damaged organs as well as enhancing function in healthy ones.
Her research at the CEM began in September 2003 with the development of a technique to study and characterize the in vivo metabolic state of the rat liver's circulation. This was followed by the subsequent development of a physiologically relevant ex vivo rat liver perfusion system for the purposes of controlled evaluation of the varied metabolic responses to systemic disease processes such as hypermetabolism. The goal of introducing negligible systemic error to the perfusion of the organ allowed not only for an increase in accuracy of measurements obtained, but also an introduction to novel techniques of organ storage and treatment for enhanced transplant possibilities. A third contribution of this competent perfusion system has been toward the assessment of the effects of various drugs on disease processes through observation of alterations in liver metabolism.
Current efforts are targeted at pathology-specific ex-vivo recovery protocols through the development of sensitive markers and real-time modulation of organ viability. Three novel imaging modalities are being investigated as corollaries to metabolic measurements to ensure homogenous perfusion and patent microvasculature, while scaling the system up to accommodate human-sized organs. Organ perfusion conducted at a flexible range of temperatures and with optimized perfusates will enable the future use of all discarded donor organs for enhanced treatment and research options.
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