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Department of Biomedical Engineering

Pfister, Bryan J.

Contact Info
Title: Associate Professor
Email: bryan.j.pfister@njit.edu
Office: 619 fenster hall
Phone: 973-596-3401
Dept: biomedical engineering
Webpage:

About Dr. Pfister

Bryan J. Pfister, PhD, ssociate professor in the department of biomedical engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology, is a specialist in neural tissue engineering. In 2007, Pfister received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation to support and expand his research into rapid axon stretch growth, a technique for regenerating damaged or diseased nerve cells.

 
Pfister’s research has recapitulated an unrecognized and extremely rapid form of nervous system growth that occurs during an organism’s development. As animals grow, nerves that initially span a very short distance continue to undergo enormous growth and can reach meters in length in large animals. For example, the blue whale can grow an estimated 4 cm per day and the giraffe’s neck increases by about 2 cm per day at peak growth. Naturally, the nerves are forced to rapidly expand as well. The mechanical stretching forces resulting from the growth of an animal may be the key mechanism that initiates and maintains growth of the nervous system.
 
In collaboration with a team of physicians at the University of Pennsylvania, Pfister has recreated in the laboratory a natural form of axon growth that occurs through stretching as an individual grows from embryo through early adulthood. By studying the tissue grown through the stretching technique, he hopes to find clues to repairing traumatic injuries to the spinal cord and other nerve tissue. Pfister also hopes to develop a nerve-tissue interface that would allow for a thought-controlled prosthesis that would behave like a natural limb.
 
Pfister received his PhD in materials science engineering and his MS degree in mechanical engineering, both from Johns Hopkins University, and his BS degree in interdisciplinary engineering and management from Clarkson University.

Education

 

·       Doctorate of Philosophy, Department of Material Science and Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 2002. Mentor: Dr. Gang Bao, Ph.D.Dissertation: An In Vitro Model for Uniaxial Stretching of Cultured Neural Cells; The Roles of Mechanical Deformation and BCL-2 Proteins on Axonal Injury.
·       Masters of Science, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 1998.
·       Bachelor of Science, Interdisciplinary Engineering and Management, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, 1991.

 

Honors and Awards

 

Fellowship Awards:

  • 2003-Present - Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research post-doctoral Fellow
  • 1997-2001 - Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory Graduate Student Fellowship.
  • 2004 - Best Presentation Award, National Neurotrauma Society Meeting
  • 2004 - Best presentation award, Annual Biomedical Postdoctoral Research     Symposium, University of Pennsylvania Medical School
  • 1990-1991 Sigma Tau Iota Engineering Society
  • 1990 - 1990 Phalanx Commendable Leadership Award
  • 1989-1990 Undergraduate Student Senate Representative

Professional Experience

 Assistant Professor, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Department of Biomedical Engineering, 2006-present.

Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Neurosurgery, 2005-2006
Neuro-Bridge, 2004-2008, Scientific Advisor. 
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Pennsylvania, Department of Neurosurgery, 2002-2005. 
Mentor: Douglas H. Smith, M.D.
Research Fellow, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 1996 – 1999. 

Professional Activities/Organizations

 

a)      Service To The Profession
b)      ABET
i)        NSF Grant Review: RAPD Panel (Research to Aid Persons with Disabilities Program), February 2008
ii)       Grant review for The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, April 2008
iii)     Served as reviewer for:
(1)   Acta Biomaterialia
(2)   Tissue Engineering
(3)   Experimental Cell Research
(4)   The Engineering in Medicine and Biology Conference
 
Society Memberships
2004-present    Biomedical Engineering Society
2002-present    Society for Neuroscience
2002-present    American Association for the Advancement of Science
2002-present    Autism Society of America
2002-present    Philadelphia Chapter of the Autism Society of America
2002-present    Cure Autism Now Foundation
2001-present    National Neurotrauma Society
 
Community Activities
iv)     Run a parent support group for children with disabilities, Sharing and Caring of Bucks County, www.sharingcaringbuckscounty.org
v)      Board member of The Coffeehouse Center of Bucks County, a community facility and comprehensive program for post high school adults with Aspergers and Pervasive Developmental Disorder
vi)     Work with parents with children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder to make post high school educational plans
 
2002-present        Sharing and Caring of Bucks County, Parent Support Group Coordinator
2004                                  Graduate of Competence and Confidence: Partners in Policy Making for Families of Children in Early Intervention, Institute on Disabilities, Temple University.
2003-2005            Bucks County PDD/Autism Task Force, Parent Representative
2003-2005            Pennsylvania Local Interagency Coordinating Council on Disabilities, Parent Representative
2001-2002                 Delaware County PDD/Autism Parent Support Group Member

My courses

 

  • Biomaterials and Biocompatibility, Undergraduate level course, BME 420, 3 credits, Fall semester Prerequisites: Physics 121, Chemistry 126, Mech 320. An introduction to the field of biomaterials. The goal of this course is to understand material selection and the limitations imposed by current materials on device performance. The first part of the course will provide an overview of the current medical devices/implants with respect to their clinical relevance. Subsequently, the structure and properties of metals, ceramics, and polymers will be discussed. Properties include mechanical behavior, thermal, and surface characteristics. The second part of the course will discuss biocompatibility and implant design. Immunological and various histological responses will be described. Material properties of hard and soft tissues, their response to implants and the material selection for such tissues will be discussed.,
  • Molecular and Cellular Tissue Engineering, Graduate level course, BME 698-002 ST, 3 credits, Spring semesterThe tissues and organs of the body are comprised of cellular and extracellular components that form a harmonious environment. This course will explore molecular, cellular and tissue level interactions that are an important component of all tissue engineering strategies. We will consider how a cell moves, reacts and maintains viability and function based on it surroundings. We will discuss how to engineer our materials, tissue grafts and implants to integrate with the body. We will also learn about bodily reactions and the biocompatibility of tissue engineered devices such as immunoreactivity and blood coagulation. Furthermore, we will review clinical and engineering implications through the presentation and discussion of some peer reviewed literature.
  • Engineering Aspects of Molecular and Cellular Biology (BME Seminar), BME 601, 1 credit, Fall and Spring semestersMolecular and cellular biology is a foundation of the understanding of the biological sciences and is therefore vital to the study of advanced biomedical engineering. Students in the joint NJIT/UMDNJ Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. program are required to take two ‘core’ biomedical science courses at UMDNJ. This course is to be taken simultaneously with UMDNJ N551 and N552 to enrich the crossover between engineering and life sciences. Course topics parallel those covered in N551 and N552 and both add engineering relevance, and provide engineering students with a stronger understanding of molecular and cellular biology. 
  • Summer course in Biomedical Engineering for high school studentsTwo half day modules exposing students to cell culture and microscopic imaging of fluorescent cellular stains. 
  • Biomedical Engineering Graduate Seminar, BME791, required graduate attendance, 0 credit, Fall and Spring semestersThis is not your ordinary seminar series. Seminar attendance is mandatory for all of our full time masters, PhD students and post doctoral fellows. Our goal is to provide real world exposure to biomedical engineering in both industry and academia. Topics range from biomedical device design, product development, regulatory issues, basic science research, animal research and discussions of clinical application. In addition to the seminars, question and answer sessions are often held in the afternoon with industry speakers. 

Grants and funded research

 

  • NSF CAREER award: Engineering nervous tissue in vitro: discovering the mechanisms of rapid axon stretch growth. National Science Foundation, Jan 2008 - 2013, $424,336
  • High throughput axon injury system, New Jersey Commission on Brain Injury Research, 04/01/07—3/31/09, $144,578

Patents

 

Smith, D.H., Pfister, B.J., Meaney, D.F., Device and Method Using Integrated Neuronal Cells and an Electronic Device, Patent Application PCT/US02/38670, World Intellectual Property Organization, June 12, 2003, WO 03/047422.

Research Interests

  • mechanisms of extreme axon stretch growth
  • axon transport and assembly
  • nervous system injury and repair
  • mechanisms of traumatic brain injury
  • applied biomaterials and tissue engineering for spinal cord and peripheral nerve repair
  • nerve-biomaterial interaction
  • in-vitro and in-vivo models of nerve injury

Publications

 

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles
Pfister, B.J., Chickola, L. Smith, D.H., Head motions while riding roller coasters: Implications for brain injury, Am. J. Forensic Med. and Path., in Press for 2009
Kameswaran, N., Cullen, D.K., Pfister B.J., Ranalli, N.J., Huang, J.H., Zager E.L., Smith D.H., "A novel neuroprosthetic interface with the peripheral nervous system using artificially engineered axonal tracts", Neurological Res., in Press for December 2008.
Cullen, D.K., Patel, A., Smith, D.H., Pfister, B.J., Developing a tissue engineered neural-electrical relay using encapsulated neuronal constructs on conducting polymer fibers, J. Neural. Eng. 2008 Sep 30; 5(4):374-384.
Huang J.H., Zager E.L., Zhang J., Groff R.F., Pfister B.J., Cohen A.S., Grady M.S., Maloney-Wilensky E., Smith D.H., Harvested human neurons engineered as live nervous tissue constructs: implications for transplantation, J Neurosurg. 2008 Feb;108(2):343-7.
Cohen, A.S., Pfister, B.J., Schwarzbach, E., Grady, M.S., Goforth, P.B., Satin, L.S., Injury-induced alterations in CNS electrophysiology, Prog Brain Res. 2007;161:143-69.
Pfister, B.J., Huang, J.H., Kameswaran, N., Zager, E.L., Smith, D.H., Neural engineering to produce in vitro nerve constructs and neurointerface, Neurosurgery 2007; 60(1):1-5.
Jeong, G.B., Werner, M., Gazula, V.R., Itoh, T., Roberts, M., David, S., Pfister, B., Cohen, A., Neve, R.L., Hollmann, M., Kalb, R., Bi-directional control of motor neuron dendrite remodeling by the calcium permeability of AMPA receptors. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2006 Jul; 32(3):299-314.
Pfister, B.J., Bonislawski, D.P., Smith, D.H., Cohen, A.S., Stretch-grown axons retain the ability to transmit active electrical signals, FEBS Lett. 2006 Jun 12;580(14):3525-3531.
Pfister, B.J., Iwata, A., Meaney, D.F., Smith, D.H., Development of Transplantable Nerve Constructs Comprised of Stretch-Grown Axons, Journal of Neuroscience Methods, J Neurosci Methods. 2006 May 15;153(1):95-103..
Iwata, A., Browne, K.D., Pfister, B.J., Gruner, J.A, Smith, D.H., Long-term Survival and Outgrowth of Mechanically Engineered Nerve Constructs Implanted into Spinal Cord Lesions, Tissue Eng. 2006 Jan;12(1):101-10.
Pfister, B.J., Oyler, G.A., Betenbaugh, M.J., Bao, G., The Effects of BclXL and Bax Over-expression on Stretch-injury Induced Neural Cell Death, Mechanics and Chemistry of Biosystems 1(4), p233-243, 2004.
Boustany, N.N., Tsai, Y.C., Pfister, B.J., Joiner, W.M., Oyler, G.A., Thakor, N.V., Bcl-XL-dependent Light Scattering by Apoptotic Cells, Biophysical Journal 87, p4163-4171, 2004.
Pfister, B.J., Iwata, A., Meaney, D.F., and Smith, D.H., Extreme Stretch-Growth of Integrated Axons, Journal of Neuroscience 24(36), p7978-7983, 2004.
Pfister, B.J., Weihs, T., Betenbaugh, M.J., Bao, G., An In Vitro Uniaxial Stretch Model for Axonal Injury, Annuals of Biomedical Engineering 31, p589-598, 2003.
 
 
Conference Proceedings
 
Pfister, B.J., Iwata, A., Meaney, D.F., Smith, D.H., Enormous Stretch-induced Growth Potential of Axons Under the Application of Continuous Tension, Proceedings of the 2003 ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference.
Pfister, B.J. and Bao, G., Displacement-controlled Stretch Injury of Neural Cells, Proceedings of the 2003 ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference.
Meaney, D.F., Taylor, A., Pfister, B.J., Smith, D.H., Modeling the Assembly of the Axonal Cytoskeleton during Stretch Growth: Optimizing Conditions for Growth, Proceedings of the 2003 ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference.

 

Presentations

Invited Presentations

NJCSCR sponsored workshop on "Biomaterials and Bioengineering in Spinal Cord and Neuroscience Research", Axon stretch growth – Can a natural developmental process be exploited for nerve repair? Rutgers University, June 2008
NJ Commission on Spinal Cord Research workshop on "Biomaterials and Bioengineering in Spinal Cord and Neuroscience Research". Axon stretch growth – Can a natural developmental process be exploited for nerve repair?, Rutgers University, June 2008
NSF C2Prism Fellows and the teachers summer workshop,Axon stretch-growth:Discovery of a new and important form of nervous system development, 2007
Pfister, B.J., Good stretch – Bad stretch in the nervous system. Invited seminar, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, UMDNJ, Nov 19, 2007
Pfister, B.J., Axon Stretch-growth, Neuroscience Program, Michigan State University, 2007.
"Axon stretch-growth: Discovery of a new and important form of nervous system development", Biology Colloquium, Department of Biological Sciences, Rutger’s University October 2006
Pfister, B.J., Electrophysiological models of TBI., National Neurotrauma Society meeting, Session: New Approaches to CNS Injury Modeling, 2006.
Pfister, B.J., Huang, J., Kameswaran, N., Cohen, A., Smith, D.H., Nervous Tissue Interfaces Engineered From Stretch-Grown Axon Cables, Biomedical Engineering Society Meeting, Session: Neural Engineering - Neural Circuits - Artificial and Biological, 2006

 

 

Seminar Presentations

Pfister, B.J.,Axon stretch-growth: Discovery of a new and important form of nervous system development., New Jersey Institute of Technology, Biomedical Engineering Seminar, 2005.
Pfister, B.J.,Axon stretch-growth: Discovery of a new and important form of nervous system development., Drexel University, Biomedical Engineering Seminar, 2005.
Pfister, B.J., Iwata, A., Zager, E.L., Huang, J., Meaney, D.F., and Smith, D.H., Axon Stretch Growth – Can a Natural Developmental Process be Exploited for Nerve Repair?, University of Pennsylvania Departments of Bioengineering and Neurosurgery, Central Nervous System Injury Seminar, 2004.
Smith, D.H., Pfister, B.J., and Iwata, A., Engineering Nerve Constructs Comprised of Stretch-Grown Dorsal Root Ganglion Axons Obtained from Organ Donors, Presentation to the Philadelphia Gift of Life Program, 2004.
Pfister, B.J., Iwata, A., and Smith, D.H., Mechanical Deformation of Nervous Tissue; Good, Bad, and Ideal, University of Pennsylvania Departments of Bioengineering and Neurosurgery, Central Nervous System Injury Seminar, 2002.
Pfister, B.J., Betenbaugh, M.J., Weihs, T. and Bao, G., Mechanical Deformation and Programmed Cell Death of Neurons In Vitro, University of Pennsylvania Departments of Bioengineering and Neurosurgery, 2001.
 
Conference Presentations
Pfister B.J., Huang, J., Zager E.L., Iwata A., Meaney D.F., Cohen A.S., Smith D.H., Engineering Nerve Constructs for Clinical Application, Program No. 373.6, 2004 Abstract Viewer/Itinerary Planner. Washington, DC: Society for Neuroscience, 2004.
Pfister B.J., Huang, J., Zager E.L., Iwata A., Meaney D.F., Cohen A.S., Smith D.H., Engineering Nerve Constructs for Clinical Application, J. Neurotrauma 21(9), p1288, 2004, (Top abstract and presentation award).
Pfister B.J., Huang, J., Iwata A., Meaney D.F., Cohen A.S., Smith D.H., Engineering Nerve Constructs In Vitro, Biomedical Engineering Society Meeting, 2004.
Pfister B.J., Huang, J., Iwata A., Meaney D.F., Cohen A.S., Smith D.H., Engineering Nerve Constructs In Vitro, Annual Biomedical Postdoctoral Research Symposium, University of Pennsylvania Medical School, 2004, (Top abstract and presentation award).
Pfister B.J., Iwata A., Meaney D.F., Smith D.H., Engineering Nerve Constructs In Vitro, J. Neurotrauma. 20(10), p1058, 2003.
Pfister, B.J. and Bao, G., Displacement-controlled Stretch Injury of Neural Cells, ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference, 2003.
Pfister, B.J., Iwata, A., Meaney, D.F., Smith, D.H., Enormous Stretch-induced Growth Potential of Axons Under the Application of Continuous Tension, ASME Summer Bioengineering Conference, 2003.
Pfister, B.J., Weihs T., Betenbaugh, M.J., Bao, G., An In Vitro Uniaxial Stretching Model for Diffuse Axonal Injury, The Johns Hopkins University Material Science Symposium, 2001.