Kristen Mills recently awarded the Neurofibromatosis Research Program’s New Investigator Award through the Department of Defense - Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs
Author: Torie Wells
Published On: 10/08/2019
Through better understanding of the mechanical processes at work in tumors, Kristen Mills, an assistant professor of mechanical, aerospace, and nuclear engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, hopes to support the development of more effective treatments. She was recently awarded the Neurofibromatosis Research Program’s New Investigator Award through the Department of Defense - Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs. This award will support her lab’s work to characterize the mechanical properties of different tumor types associated with the genetic disorder Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). Many of those tumors are benign, but about 10% of patients with NF1 develop malignant tumors in their peripheral nervous system — the system that connects the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. Right now little is known, Mills said, about how mutations in the NF1 gene affect the biomechanics and mechanobiology of the cells that carry them and if those properties drive the formation of malignant tumors. We know a lot about the genetic mutation but not if it’s necessarily the altered biomechanics that can propel or influence the progression of the disease,” Mills said. Knowing what she knows about tumor development in other cases, Mills believes that a better understanding of the mechanics could yield promising results.
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