Alana Gonzales

MIT Department: Mechanical Engineering & Biological Engineering
Undergraduate Institution: University of Arizona, Tucson
Faculty Mentor: Roger Kamm
Research Supervisor: Sarah Shelton, PhD
Website: LinkedIn

2019 Research Poster


I am a Dual Degree Engineering student, meaning I will graduate from both Scripps College with a Bachelor of Arts in Engineering and from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering in May 2020. I am interested in building medical devices, particularly cost-effective devices for medically underserved populations. I have conducted research in medical technology, biosensors, biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. My goals are to earn a PhD and one day start my own medical device company focusing on global accessibility of medical technology.

2019 Research Abstract

Modeling T Cell and Vascular Interactions In Vitro

Alana Gonzales1, Sarah Shelton2 and Roger Kamm2,3
1Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Arizona
2 Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
3Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Immunotherapy drugs have become a widespread cancer treatment. Researchers are developing methods to predict patient-specific responses, but these have not examined the influence of the vascular endothelium in immune cell migration to tumors. We aim to model this interaction using in vitro systems by evaluating T cell migration and adhesion to human endothelial cells (ECs). Initial 2D experiments used conditioned media from four cancer cell lines to provide cytokine stimulus. Porous membranes were used to quantify T cell migration in response to a cytokine gradient, while adhesion was measured by treating EC monolayers with conditioned media prior to incubation with T cells. There was a significant difference in T cell adhesion across the four cell lines (p=1.8×10-5) and in T cell migration in response to cytokine gradients (p=2.5×10-3). Results showed a nearly 3-fold increase in T cell adhesion to ECs (p=3×10-5) and a 3-fold increase in T cell migration (p=0.0017) in response to MDA-MB-231 conditioned media compared to the negative controls. Therefore, this model demonstrates that cytokine stimulus affects T cell migration and adhesion to EC monolayers. Future experiments aim to examine migration and adhesion profiles in more detail using vascularized 3D microfluidic devices to model the tumor microenvironment.