Have you ever been stuck wearing a cast because you broke your arm or leg? I bet you wished for a speedy recovery, as casts can be very uncomfortable! Plasma to the rescue! Studies show how plasma might be able to solve this problem by promoting cell growth and improving bone formation (https://ryortho.com/breaking/cold-plasma-leads-to-increased-bone-formation/).
Our new Scientist of the week, Dr. Theresa Freeman has performed extensive research in the field of plasma-assisted bone regeneration. She is an associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University and recently she has expanded her studies to treat melanoma. For more information about her background and work, please read her biographical sketch below. Her interview to sciengcafe.com will be posted next week.
Theresa A Freeman, MS, PhD Associate Professor, with a joint appointment in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Dermatology and Cutaneous Biology.
Dr. Freeman received Masters and PhD degrees from Rutgers University in 1995 and 96, respectively, and in 1996, was appointed Research Assistant Professor and Assistant Director of the Cell Morphology Core for the Institute of Human Gene Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1997, she left academia to work as an Application Scientist, consulting with pharmaceutical and academic laboratories to automate microscopy and image analysis applications. She returned to academia in 2004 as Research Associate in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Thomas Jefferson University, and was promoted to tenure-track Assistant Professor in 2006 and Associate Professor in 2012. Dr. Freeman obtained several grants from NIH focused on the role of reactive oxygen species in skeletal cell differentiation, repair, regeneration and degeneration. She collaborated with academic and industrial engineers to integrate new technologies into orthopaedic applications. She is currently collaborating with the University of Delaware to develop histone-targeted, non-viral gene therapies for bone defect repair. Additionally, she has pioneering work in the field of plasma medicine and is a member of the Board of Directors for the International Society of Plasma Medicine.
The research focus of her laboratory is detailed below:
PLASMA MEDICINE – Plasma medicine utilizes physics-based technology of non-thermal atmospheric plasmas for treatment of biological tissues. Dr. Freeman is currently testing microsecond-and-nanosecond pulsed dielectric barrier discharge plasmas (DBD), non-thermal (cold) plasma, to manipulate cellular redox to enhance skeletal cell differentiation, limb development and regeneration. Cold plasma can influence cell function mainly through activation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) signaling pathways. Her NIH-funded study investigated how plasma generated reactive oxygen species enhances development of embryonic structures, initiating expression of many genes linked to cell differentiation. More recently she has begun work with nanosecond plasma to treat melanoma. Her work provides an opportunity to evaluate the potential and feasibility of plasma treatments, while gaining a mechanistic understanding of how plasma activates signaling networks and interacts with tissue extracellular matrix to alter cell behavior.