Dr. Joshua Gasiorowski was awarded the Society for In Vitro Biology’s Young Scientist Award at the 2016 World Congress on In Vitro Biology Meeting in San Diego, CA. Joshua received his B.S. degree with a major in Molecular Biology from Benedictine University (Lisle, IL), and his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Northwestern University (Chicago, IL). He then pursued postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin (Madison, WI) and the University of Chicago (Chicago, IL). In 2013, Dr. Gasiorowski was hired for a tenure-track Assistant Professor Faculty position in the Department of Biomedical Sciences in the College of Health Sciences at Midwestern University (Downers Grove, IL).
Dr. Gasiorowski has made significant contributions to in vitro biology research as evidenced by authorship on 17 peer-reviewed publications, 4 peer-reviewed book chapters, and numerous abstracts from presentations at scientific meetings. His graduate research at Northwestern University focused on characterizing the dynamic intracellular movement of plasmid DNA in mammalian cells. It has long been known that transfection of mammalian cells with non-viral DNA vectors typically results in short term transgene expression. However, there were several published reports suggesting that the reason for this rapid loss of transgene expression was due to plasmid DNA molecules, once in the nucleus of an expressing cell, being expelled into the cytoplasm of daughter cells after a single round of cell division. The hypothesis was that since the plasmid DNA vectors were maintained in the cytoplasm once mitosis occurred, no more transgene expression could take place. Dr. Gasiorowski believed the results in these publications were due to “artificial side-effects” of the techniques used to label and track the plasmid DNA vectors. As such, he set out to extensively track intracellular DNA movement using a variety of nucleic acid labeling techniques and was able to reproduce the results from the previous publications, but also showed that those same techniques interfered with normal protein-DNA interactions in cells. Using labor intensive methodology, Joshua demonstrated that plasmid DNA vectors actually remain in the nuclei of daughter cells after a round of cell division, and are partitioned by a Gaussian distribution pattern. These results meant that the rapid loss of transgene expression typically seen in cultured cells was not due to expulsion of plasmid DNA into the cytoplasm, but by some other mechanism. These results were published and highlighted as a cover article in the journal Molecular Therapy. Joshua then went on to demonstrate that plasmids in the nucleus usually exist completely intact, but they are not viable for transgene expression unless they traffic to specific subnuclear regions.
After graduate school, Dr. Gasiorowski pursued postdoctoral positions at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago that emphasized biomaterial development. By using these biomaterials as tools to carefully manipulate in vitro cell culture systems, Dr. Gasiorowski was able to characterize and report how biophysical cues, such as biomimetic nano- and micro-scale shapes and geometries, influence cell behaviors. Through an expansive gene array analysis, Joshua showed that culturing primary human endothelial cells on sub-micron scale patterns alone can up- or down-regulate over 2,000 genes. He also reported the effects of biomimetic geometries on human trabecular meshwork cells and human corneal cells, which may provide insights into ocular would healing and glaucoma disease progression. Additionally, he developed techniques to direct multicomponent self-assembled peptides to form predictable hydrogels that could be used to expose cultured cells to substrates with highly defined ligands. Some of these techniques are now being used in self-assembling peptide systems designed to activate specific immune responses and to promote vaccine development.
As an Assistant Professor at Midwestern University, Dr. Gasiorowski is using his multidisciplinary research background to continue to study DNA trafficking in cells and to employ substrate-based biomimetic cues to direct cell behaviors. This past year he and his collaborators, Drs. Kolla Kristjansdottir and Michele Fornaro, received a highly competitive Midwestern University Multidisciplinary grant to study peripheral nerve regeneration on topographically patterned surfaces.
Dr. Gasiorowski is also making significant contributions in the areas of teaching and service. At Midwestern University he teaches in the Fundamentals of Research Laboratory techniques course, and serves as course director and teaches in the Pathophysiology course. He also serves as the course director of a Journal Club course where he effectively teaches the Master of Biomedical Sciences students at Midwestern University how to effectively present and critique scientific research. Joshua combines his passion for microscopy and teaching in a new elective course he designed called Biomedical Imaging, where he trains student how to effectively use various microscopes and how to analyze the captured images. Dr. Gasiorowski also serves as a research mentor to the students working in his laboratory, and he has already mentored 7 biomedical sciences graduate students, 1 medical student, 1 dental student, and 1 dual degree biomedical sciences/dental student. Dr. Gasiorowski has served as Co-Chair of the Midwestern University Research Committee for over 3 years. As Co-Chair he has been instrumental in creating a new campus-wide seminar series that features research-in-progress talks from faculty members across all of Midwestern University’s diverse colleges and programs. He has also expanded the University’s Kenneth A. Suarez Research day into an all-day event with morning seminar presentations by faculty from both the Arizona and Illinois campuses of Midwestern University, and the incorporation of a judged student research poster presentation competition. In addition he has been instrumental in the development of an 8-year strategic plan for research at Midwestern University and in training faculty on how to create research-based webpages. Dr. Gasiorowski has been an active member of the Society for In Vitro Biology since 2013. At the 2013 annual meeting he participated in the student educational panel discussion, and he also joined the program committee and volunteered as junior co-chair for fundraising. At the 2014 annual meeting he co-convened the plenary session Genome Editing/Gene Delivery/Targeted Mutagenesis with David Songstad. At the 2015 annual meeting he convened two IVACS symposia on Bioengineering, Microfluidics and In Vitro Imaging and The Effects of Extracellular Matrix Properties on Cell Behaviors, and presented the invited talk titled “Biomimetic extracellular matrix topographies control cell behaviors.” At the 2016 annual meeting Josh co-convened two symposia titled Post-Translational Modification of Proteins and Gene K/O, Micro RNA, RNAi, and Altering Gene Regulation. In 2016 he also started his elected officer position as the In Vitro Animal Cell Sciences section Program Chair for the 2017 and 2018 annual meetings.
The Society for In Vitro Biology congratulates Dr. Joshua Gasiorowski as the recipient of the 2016 Young Scientist Award. We look forward to seeing his future contributions to research, service, and teaching.
Submitted by Editorial Staff