Assistant Professor Juan Jiménez of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department already has several notable accomplishments to his record since coming to UMass Amherst in the fall of 2015. Earlier this year, the graduate of Michigan State (B.S.) and Princeton (M.S. and Ph.D.) Universities received a 2016 Innovation and Career Development Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society, presented to early career faculty for their accomplishments, significant contributions, and service to the biomedical engineering field. The award is intended to promote career development in the field of biomedical engineering. Dr. Jiménez was awarded the honor due to his impressive body of work related to biofluids and biomedical devices.
“Our laboratory studies the interaction between fluid flow and biology by integrating fluid dynamic engineering and cellular and molecular biology,” explains Jiménez. “Body fluids or biofluids, such as blood, lymph, and cerebrospinal fluid, continuously interact with cells in the body eliciting biochemical and physical responses. Our research seeks to elucidate the fluid flow characteristics and fluid flow-dependent biomolecular pathways relevant in medicine.”
His research has also earned him the 2007-2010 Ruth L. Kirschstein Institutional National Research Service Award and the 2011-2016 Mentored Quantitative Research Development Award – both from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition, he won the 2013 Poster Presentation Prize at the 42nd Annual Philadelphia Workshop on Hemostasis, Thrombosis, and Atherosclerosis.
His post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania focused on the influence of fluid flow on the endothelium within the context of biomedical devices, specifically stents. During this time he received a prestigious K-25 NIH Career Award that provided protected time for coursework in vascular and molecular biology. His research has focused on merging concepts from biology and fluid dynamics to study fluid-relevant diseases.
Dr. Jiménez’s laboratory utilizes molecular biology and computational and experimental fluid dynamic tools to tackle difficult questions related to disease and the effects of fluid flow. For example, Dr. Jiménez introduced aerodynamic concepts into cardiovascular stent design to study how the design of stents influences thrombosis and cell migration, important aspects of clinical success after stent implantation. His research showed that by streamlining stent struts, the endothelial cell phenotype was rescued in vitro to an anti-thrombotic phenotype, thrombi formation was mitigated, and wound healing enhanced, with potential implications for improved clinical outcome with a streamlined stent design.
In addition to cardiovascular disease, he has also focused on how fluid flow impacts lymphatic vessel development and lymph transport and the potential role of blood flow in cerebral aneurysm development. In the lymphatic system his research showed that fluid flow is necessary for the development of valves within lymphatic vessels and identified key genes in this developmental process. He is presently investigating lymph transport in mouse models of lymphedema, a multifactorial debilitating condition.
As a postdoctoral fellow and now as a junior faculty member at UMass Amherst, Dr. Jiménez has also mentored multiple graduate and undergraduate students who have further pursued more advanced training in biomedical engineering and medicine. (December 2016)