Our Team

Ellis Meng PhD

Ellis Meng is Professor of Biomedical and Electrical Engineering in the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California. She received the B.S. degree in engineering and applied science and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Pasadena, in 1997, 1998, and 2003, respectively.

 

In 2004, she founded the Biomedical Microsystems Laboratory which conducts research on biocompatible polymer technology and micromachining, sensors and actuators, microfluidics, and implantable and biomedical microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). Her honors include the NSF CAREER award, Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Early Career Award, 2009 TR35 Young Innovator Under 35, Viterbi Early Career Chair, ASEE Curtis W. McGraw Research Award, AIMBE Fellow, and IEEE Fellow.

 

She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering and Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering. In 2017, she co-chaired the annual IEEE MEMS conference. She is also an active educator and authored a textbook on bioMEMS. Dr. Meng is a member of Tau Beta Pi, IEEE, AIMBE, ASME, BMES, and ASEE.

The Meng Laboratory at USC focuses on developing novel micro- and nanotechnologies for biomedical applications. In particular, we are interested in the integration of multiple modalities (e.g. electrical, mechanical, and chemical) in miniaturized devices measuring no more than a few millimeters for use in fundamental scientific research, biomedical diagnostics, and therapy.

Eunji Chung PhD

Professor Eun Ji Chung is a Gabilan Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. She received her B.A. in Molecular Biology with honors from Scripps College (Claremont, CA) and her Ph.D. from the Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Program and the Department of Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University. At Northwestern, Dr. Chung developed biodegradable, citric acid-based polymers and nanocomposites for tissue engineering under the direction of Professor Guillermo A. Ameer.

As a postdoctoral fellow, she first focused on fabricating self-assembling membranes and 3D printed structures derived from ECM proteins and carbohydrates for regenerative medicine. She then expanded her postdoctoral research and joined the laboratory of Professor Matthew Tirrell in the Institute for Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago to develop peptide amphiphile micelles for theranostic applications. Professor Chung is a recipient of the SQI-Baxter Early Career Award, the American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship, the Postdoctoral Research Grant from the Chicago Biomedical Consortium, and the K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the NIH. She is a member of the Society for Biomaterials, Biomedical Engineering Society, and the American Institute for Chemical Engineers. 

The Chung research group focuses on molecular design, nanomedicine, and tissue engineering to generate biomaterial strategies to address the limitations of clinical solutions. In particular, we are interested in self-assembling micelle systems that can be designed to deliver molecular signals to report back on or influence the behavior of diseased tissue for theranostic applications. In addition, we are harnessing our expertise in combining biomimetic scaffolds with novel stem cell sources for complex regeneration of hierarchically-ordered tissues and organs. Our group is highly interdisciplinary as our research is positioned at the intersection of engineering, biology, and medicine, and we work with a variety of collaborators to translate our materials towards clinical use.

Stacey Finley PhD

Stacey D. Finley, Ph.D., is an Assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. She is holder of the Gordon S. Marshall Early Career Chair. Dr. Finley has a joint appointment in the Mork Family Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and is a member of the Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center. Dr. Finley received her Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Florida A & M University in 2004. Her graduate studies were completed in 2009 in Chemical Engineering at Northwestern University and involved using computational tools to predict and estimate the feasibility of novel biodegradation pathways. Her postdoctoral studies at Johns Hopkins University focused on computational modeling of VEGF signaling pathways. She was awarded postdoctoral fellowships from the NIH National Research Service Award and the UNCF/Merck Science Initiative. Dr. Finley's current research applies a systems biology approach to develop molecular-detailed computational models of biological processes related to human disease.

The main projects in the Finley Lab are focused on applying computational modeling to study angiogenesis, metabolism, and immunotherapy. Current projects study how these processes are exploited in cancer. The biochemical networks that regulate these processes involve numerous cell types, molecular species, and signaling pathways, and the dynamics occur on multiple timescales. Therefore, a systems biology approach, including experiment-based computational modeling, is required to understand these complex processes and their interconnectedness in cancer. Models can simulate biological processes under pathological conditions and predict interventions that restore normal physiology. Additionally, the models can identify which tumors will respond favorably to a particular therapy, aiding in the development and optimization of effective therapeutics. 
 

Cristina Zavaleta PhD

Cristina Zavaleta is a Gabilan Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Engineering department  and has more than 15 years working in the field of molecular imaging. Her research focuses on the development, assessment and clinical translation of new diagnostic strategies that include functional imaging capabilities to help clinicians detect cancers with better sensitivity and specificity. These tools are directed at utilizing nano-based contrast agents to: 1) Improve early cancer detection during routine screening techniques and 2) Help surgeons identify and resect tumor margins with better sensitivity and specificity.

 

As a graduate student in the lab of Dr. Beth Goins, she focused on the fabrication and pharmacokinetic biodistribution of radiolabled liposomal nanoparticles for diagnostic and therapeutic application in preclinical tumor models using microPET and microSPECT/CT imaging. Her dissertation involved utilizing a novel intraperitoneal delivery system to administer radiotherapeutic (186Re) liposomes for the treatment of peritoneal ovarian metastases. The 186Re labeled liposomal formulation is currently undergoing clinical trials for intratumoral radiotherapeutic delivery during surgery.

 

In her postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University with Dr. Sanjiv Gambhir, she spent considerable effort in developing an entirely new molecular imaging approach which involves the use of Raman spectroscopy in conjunction with tumor targeting contrast agents known as surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) nanoparticles.  She also had the rare opportunity to work on the clinical translation of this new imaging technique—involving the development and fabrication of a novel endoscopic Raman probe in conjunction with tumor targeting Raman nanoparticles for the ultrasensitive detection of precancerous lesions in the colon. She has also played active role in working with various regulatory agencies such as the IRB and the FDA on matters of IDE and IND approval for our proposed device/drug combination product.