How a Torn ACL brought Sofia Hidalgo (c/o 2020) to work in Dr. Amy McNulty’s lab

You recently published an article about culture conditions for in vitro meniscus repair modelling. Briefly describe your breakthrough discovery that led to this publication.Sofia Hidalgo (c/o 2020)

– The McNulty lab works with mesenchymal stem cells and meniscal tissue; however, we had not identified the best media to use when performing experiments involving these two different variables. The media used, specifically the use of serum, has significant impact on the results obtained depending on the substances used per experiment, thus, we decided to investigate this more closely in order to establish a favourable culture medium for both MSCs and tissues.

What excites you about your work?

– There are many aspects about this line of research that excite me. I believe that regenerative medicine is the future and getting the chance to work on stem cell therapies for common orthopaedic injuries will be extremely beneficial for patient outcomes and recovery.

Why did you choose to study in Dr. Amy McNulty’s lab for your undergraduate research project?

– Throughout high school I tore my ACL and injured my meniscus twice. The aftermath of these injuries, and the intricacies of the recovery process made me very interested in meniscus repair strategies, and as I researched potential laboratories for my undergraduate research project, Dr. McNulty’s work caught my attention right away.

What has been your favourite experiment in the lab?

My favourite set of experiments at the lab have been the ones that have used our novel meniscus tissue defect model. Creating this model was tedious, but it allows us to simultaneously investigate many different parameters that promote meniscus repair

Scanning Electron Microscope images of 16% Genipin Meniscus-Derived Matrix Scaffolds. The image is at 1000x (scalebar of 50um).

What’s next for you? Your research? 

– Over the past three years we have worked on optimizing a potential bio scaffold that could be utilized in a clinical setting, but there are many factors that yet have to be studied before that stage can be reached. Currently, I am working on an experiment that combines more clinical parameters, such as dynamic loading. I am planning on working on this project for the remaining part of the year as part of my Senior Thesis project before I graduate in May. After graduation, I am planning on moving to New York and continuing working on this line of research for 2 years before applying to Medical School.

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