Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Understanding Acute Microvessel Hyperpermeability
For Bingmei Fu, joining the City College faculty was a homecoming. Dr. Sheldon Weinbaum had been her advisor at the City University of New York, where she earned her Ph.D. in mechanical engineering, and when he and Dr. Stephen Cowin were establishing a Department of Biomedical Engineering at City, they asked her to return. Both Drs. Weinbaum and Cowin hold the coveted Lissner Award of the Bioengineering Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and she knew that she would be in exceptional academic company. So, Dr. Fu left the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, where she was a founding member of the Cancer Institute, and came back to New York.
“My post-doctoral work was in human physiology at the School of Medicine at the University of California at Davis, so my background is in both engineering and medicine,” says Dr. Fu. “Thanks to the New York Center for Biomedical Engineering (NYCBE), which City College spearheads, I have an excellent relationship with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which has resulted in several research collaborations.” The NYCBE serves as a focal point for collaborative biomedical engineering research in the New York metropolitan area. It is a consortium which includes City College, the CUNY Graduate Center and Medical School and eight of the premier health care and medical research institutions in New York City.
One of Dr. Fu’s research interests is microvessel permeability and its role in tumor metastasis. Under her CAREER award she is studying the structural mechanisms of the microvessel wall, which control the transport of water, molecules and cells, with a view to designing new drug and drug delivery methods. She is focusing on the mechanisms by which vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) increases permeability of microvessels in frogs and rats. VEGF is an important signaling protein involved in the growth of new blood vessels from pre-existing ones. This process, called angiogenesis, is a fundamental step in the transition of tumors from a dormant to a malignant state. In addition, by increasing microvessel permeability, VEGF makes it easier for tumor cells to extravasate to secondary organs. Dr. Fu will further investigate how that permeability is influenced by cAMP, a possible inhibitor of VEGF’s unwanted behavior.
Since returning to City College, Dr. Fu has been developing new courses emphasizing in vivo research and has introduced students with engineering backgrounds to research methods prevalent in medical schools. She is also fostering international research and education collaborations, particularly with West China Medical University and the University of Singapore.
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