Johns Hopkins Gazette: August 21, 1995

Alevriadou's Research Keeps Flowing Along

Ken Keatley
Homewood News and Information

     In Rita Alevriadou's laboratory, they like the expression
"go with the flow."

     She and her research team have engineered experimental in
vitro systems that mimic blood flow in humans to determine how
vital components of the vessel wall--endothelial cells--are
affected by flow-induced mechanical stresses. Understanding how
the friction generated by blood flow affects those cells will be
very helpful in the search for better treatment of such
cardiovascular diseases as atherosclerosis, restenosis or the
narrowing of vessels after angioplasty.

     "Endothelial cells are exciting," said Alevriadou, an
assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
"Under normal conditions, they act as a barrier, keeping blood
platelets from adhering to the vessel wall. They also release
chemicals to prevent platelet thrombosis (blood clotting). But if
the cells are altered by disease or removed by injury, thrombosis
will occur."

     To bolster her efforts to determine how the mechanical
environment affects the anti-coagulant properties of the cells,
Alevriadou has recently been awarded a grant from the Whitaker
Foundation. The three-year grant, which will total $180,000, is
one of 42 made under the Washington-based foundation's Biomedical
Engineering Research Grants program for 1995.

     Another research project being actively pursued in her lab
employs such sophisticated techniques as video microscopy and
digital image processing to visualize and quantify the extent of
platelet thrombosis, from flowing blood, onto surfaces that mimic
the diseased vessel wall.

     "Our research is important, since in order to improve the
treatment strategies for vascular diseases it will be necessary
to understand the response of blood cells and endothelial cells
to arterial stresses," said Alevriadou.

     Much of Alevriadou's research in fluid dynamics and vascular
biology is done in collaboration with cardiologists,
hematologists and other specialists in the School of Medicine.

     They are about to embark on another project, which will
examine the role of the female hormone estrogen--which studies
have found to be protective against cardiovascular diseases in
women--on endothelial cells.

     Alevriadou, who earned her Ph.D. in chemical engineering
from Rice University in 1992, came to Hopkins following a
one-year stint as a research associate in the Department of
Molecular and Experimental Medicine at The Scripps Research

      "I've long been interested in applying engineering
principles--like transport phenomena and fluid dynamics--to
medicine and biology," said Alevriadou.

     "At Hopkins, the close relationship between engineering and
medicine enhances the opportunity for exciting research

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