The Office of the Vice President for Research recognizes Scott Verbridge, an assistant professor with the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, for his efforts to fight cancer.
From the viewpoint that cancer is evolutionary and is competitive with cells of varying degrees of fitness, Verbridge works to understand the ever-changing microenvironment of the cells. By thoroughly understanding the dynamic environment, Verbridge and colleagues strive to make cancer-targeting therapies more effective.
He studies the dynamics underlying cellular invasion and therapy response in brain tumors, focusing on glioblastoma, the most common and deadly primary brain malignancy.
With his colleagues he has developed systems to create experimental models that are controllable, yet still physiologically relevant, thereby enabling a new class of in vitro experimental tumor evolution studies to take place.
With these advanced models of the tumor microenvironment, researchers can study how cells respond to radiation therapy and electric field exposure — research that would be extremely challenging to do in patients. The goal is to leverage an understanding of the interactions in order to improve treatment for cancer patients.
Malignant tumors quickly evolve and develop resistance to treatment.
But if researchers are able to better understand the responses of experimental tumor tissues to chemotherapy drugs, they may be able to understand how highly malignant tumors are outsmarting traditional therapies, and identify the key interactions that may hinder a patient’s response to a drug.
Along those lines, Verbridge is studying tumor-microbe interactions, which require models of systemic tumor processes leveraging engineered vascularized tissues and in vitro modeling of the human microbiome.
Such work requires better scientific tools to control and measure the interactions. In combination with his interdisciplinary training in physics and biomedical engineering, Verbridge is answering basic and applied questions about tumor-microenvironment interactions.
He is interested in nanobiotechnology, microfluidics, Graphene NEMS, and tumor angiogenesis, and runs the Lab for Integrative Tumor Biology.
Verbridge received his master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from Cornell University, and bachelor’s degrees in physics and applied mathematics from the University of Rochester.