Understanding how exposures to chemical and biological agents affect the human body, and developing countermeasures requires research into the mechanisms of these agents on human tissues.
Dr. Monica Moya is developing three-dimensional printing techniques for manufacturing vascularized tissue (containing blood vessels) using bioink—a fluid with biological components. Researchers can use these tissues to assess medical treatments in laboratory settings, and they may also have value in treating certain diseases. The long-term goal of 3D bioprinting is to one day engineer complete human organs or tissue replacements. Moya’s team is using a bioprinter to deposit bioinks into a device that establishes a feeding system to direct the growth of a vascularized network. They have created vascularized tissue patches, and are working toward patches with hierarchical vascular networks similar to those in the human body, as a step toward developing 3D organs.
When she was looking for a job at the end of her academic postdoctoral work., Moya did not know about Department of Energy national laboratories, but she did not feel a university career was right for her, and the industry scientists she talked to seemed unexcited by their work. Hearing about Livermore from a contact, she asked for an informational conversation with the Center leader for Center of Micro and Nano Technology, ended up talking to him for three hours and nerding out about science. She eventually applied for a job. “I felt that he had a passion for his work that I did not encounter anywhere else. I wanted to work in a place where I’m surrounded by people I’m impressed with, where everyone is passionate about the work they do,” she says. She found that at Livermore, “what impressed me most during my first visit were the people. I was looking for a work environment were I could surround myself with people I could aspire to be like.”
Moya received her B.S. from Northwestern University and her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology. She conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Irvine as a National Institutes of Health Ruth Kirschstein–National Research Service Award Fellow prior to coming to Livermore.
At Livermore, Moya appreciates “the people, the chance to work with interdisciplinary teams, and to solve problems that are not just purely academic, but have applications to real needs”—the Laboratory’s missions. “I need to care about the problems I’m solving. The work I do here is right up my alley,” she says.