Education

UT Health Science Center SA 08/12 – 08/16

PhD in Biomedical Engineering

Research emphasis in aging, regenerative medicine, stem cells, and tissue engineering

Dissertation title: Rescuing the regenerative capacity of human mesenchymal stem cells from the elderly

Laboratory of Xiao-Dong Chen MD PhD

University of Rochester – Rochester, NY                                   08/08 - 05/12

BS Biomedical Engineering

Concentration in Cell and Tissue Engineering

Work Experience

Senior Scientist - StemBioSys, Inc.                                                 10/16 - Current

StemBioSys is a small biotechnology start-up aiming to catalyze progress in the field of the regenerative medicine through the develop of novel technologies.  In my role as Senior Scientist, I am responsible for planning and executing all R&D related activities.  This includes identifying potential opportunities, designing and executing experiments, initiating and maintaining external collaborations, giving feedback to our manufacturing partners, managing research personnel, and reporting on progress to shareholders and the board of directors.

Founder/President - San Antonio Science, Inc.                              11/15 - Current

In order to promote greater appreciation and understanding of science in San Antonio, I founded San Antonio Science, Inc.  San Antonio Science is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting understanding and appreciation for Science in San Antonio through outreach, and education.  Specifically, we aim to encourage engagement between scientists and non-scientists in order to create a voice for science in every conversation.  Ultimately, we hope to lead efforts to develop San Antonio’s reputation as a city of science.

Adjunct Assistant Professor – UT Health San Antonio              01/17 - Current       

In order to promote greater appreciation and understanding of science in San Antonio, I founded San Antonio Science, Inc.  San Antonio Science is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting understanding and appreciation for Science in San Antonio through outreach, and education.  Specifically, we aim to encourage engagement between scientists and non-scientists in order to create a voice for science in every conversation.  Ultimately, we hope to lead efforts to develop San Antonio’s reputation as a city of science.

Post-Doctoral Fellow – UT Health Science Center SA                  07/16 - 10/16

Funded by an NIH sponsored Institutional National Research Service Award, I study how the design of culture environments can enable efficient trans-differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells into functional salivary acinar cells in the lab of Dr. Chih-Ko Yeh.  I also work on developing technologies to enable autologous stem cell banking and autologous stem cell therapies for age-related disease in collaboration with my graduate advisor, Dr. Xiao-Dong Chen.  My responsibilities include assay development, experimental design, grant and manuscript writing, and mentoring and supervision of graduate students.

Graduate Research Assistant – UT Health Science Center SA   08/12 - 06/16

As a PhD candidate at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), I work full-time doing my dissertation research in the lab of Xiao-Dong Chen, MD PhD. My work focuses on the identification, isolation, and subsequent expansion of a youthful sub-population of MSCs from elderly donors.  Other projects, completed or ongoing, include developing an algorithm for quantifying stem cell alignment, identifying multifactorial relationships between physical properties of the extracellular matrix and stem cell function, and characterizing various changes of aging mesenchymal stem cells.

Co-Founder/Chief Operations Officer – MonoMano, Inc.            04/12 - 01/16

As a senior at the University of Rochester, I patented a device designed with my peers as part of a senior project, and co-founded MonoMano Cycling in order to bring our invention to the market.  Our company designs adaptive cycling equipment for individuals with limited use of one arm.  Our mission is to enable all individuals to participate in the sport of cycling as a way to have fun and get fit, regardless of physical limitations.

Undergraduate Research Assistant – Univ. of Rochester            08/10 – 05/11

During my junior year at the University of Rochester, I worked under Miron Zuckerman PhD in the Dept. of Clinical and Social Psychology studying neuroeconomic theory as it relates to self-control decisions.

Medical Volunteer – Centro de Salud de Sumpango                    06/10 – 08/10

During the summer of 2010, I spent 3 months living in Guatemala, volunteering full-time in a small government run clinic in Sumpango, Sacatepequez.  The clinic was the only means of medical care for 30-40 thousand people. 

Aquatics Director – Green Tree Tennis Club                                   06/08 – 08/12

During the summers of 2008, ‘09, ‘11, and ‘12, I served as the aquatics director for Green Tree Tennis Club.  In this role, I was responsible for scheduling lifeguards and instructors, training instructors, teaching lessons, and handling client concerns

Teaching Experience

  • 2016-2017  Guest Lecturer, Undergraduate Biomaterials - University of Texas at San Antonio
  • 2016             Guest Lecturer, Graduate Stem Cells - University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Professional Memberships

  • 2016 - present     Sigma Xi
  • 2015 – present    American Academy for the Advancement of Science
  • 2015 – present    New York Academy of Science
  • 2014 – present    Society for Biomaterials
  • 2014 – present    American Aging Association
  • 2014 – present    The Health Cell
  • 2012 – present    The Rehabilitative Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)
  • 2012 – present    The Order of the Engineer
  • 2011 – present    Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)

Current and Recent Leadership Positions

  • 2015 – present    San Antonio Science, Inc. – Founder / President
  • 2015 – present    Graduate Student Association – President
  • 2015 – present    Science Fiesta – Founder and Chief Organizer
  • 2015                     Science Career, Communication, & Outreach Symposium – Co-Organizer
  • 2014 – 2016         Society for Biomaterials – Chapter President
  • 2014 – 2016         Biomedical Engineering Journal Club – Founder and President
  • 2014 – 2015        Graduate Student Association – Biomedical Engineering Program Representative / Treasurer
  • 2010 – 2012        University of Rochester Water Polo Club – Team Captain
  • 2011 – 2012         Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity – Chapter President
  • 2010 – 2011         Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity – Chapter Treasurer

Awards & Honors

  • 2016     WSCS Poster Award, 12th Annual World Stem Cell Summit, West Palm Beach, FL
  • 2016     Community Engagement Hero Award, Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science, San Antonio, TX
  • 2016     Poster Award - Frontiers in Translational Science Research Day, San Antonio, TX
  • 2016     Graduate Student Leadership Award, San Antonio, TX
  • 2015     Winner – 11th annual World Stem Cell Summit poster contest, Atlanta, GA
  • 2015     2nd Place – ASBMB Science Communication and Outreach Symposium Poster Session, San Antonio, TX
  • 2013     Student of Da Vinci Award – Da Vinci Awards for Universal Design, National MS Society
  • 2012     1st Place – Charles and Janet Forbes Entrepreneurial Competition, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • 2012     1st Place – Elevator Pitch Competition, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • 2012     1st Place – Senior Design Day Poster Contest, Hajim School of Engineering, University of Rochester
  • 2012  Finalist – Rehabilitative Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Student Design Competition, RESNA
  • 2012     2nd Place – Mark Ain Business Plan Competition, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • 2008     Wilder Trustee Scholarship, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • 2008     William Ludwikowski II Memorial Scholarship, WLII Scholarhsip Foundation, San Antonio, TX
  • 2008     Valero Alamo Bowl Scholarship, Valero Corporation, San Antonio, TX
  • 2008     Portable Research Grant, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • 2008     Harvard Book Prize, Harvard College, Boston, MA

Invited Talks

  • 2017       Ending the In Vitro Compromise. International Society for Stem Cell Research Annual Meeting. June 2017.
  • 2017       Rejuvenating elderly stem cell populations for autologous cell-based therapies. 3rd Annual RegenMedSA Meeting. February 2017.
  • 2016      How would you spend one billion dollars?. TEDx San Antonio “Now You Know”. November 2016.
  • 2016     Improving the efficacy of autologous stem cell therapies in the elderly. Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science, Topic in Translational Research Seminar. June 2016.
  • 2015     Science in San Antonio: Obstacles and Opportunities for Science to Thrive in the Alamo City. City of San Antonio, Council District 8 Strategic Planning Meeting. December 2015.
  • 2015      Rescuing the regenerative capacity of human mesenchymal stem cell populations from the elderly. World Stem Cell Summit. Atlanta, GA. December 2015.
  • 2015     High-performance microenvironments to enhance quality and quantity of expanded stem cells from elderly donors.    StemBioSys technology showcase dinner. December 2015.

Research Fellowships

TST TL1 – UL1 TR001119                                                      

Predoctoral Translational Science Training TL1 Program (NIH/NCATS), Rescuing the Regenerative Potential of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Populations from Elderly Donors, 07/2015 – 06/2016.

COSTAR (Craniofacial Oral-biology Student Training in Academic Research)         

Postdoctoral NRSA Institutional Research Training Program (NIH/NIDCR), Development of a Tissue-Specific Scaffold for Guiding Stem Cell-Based Salivary Gland Regeneration07/2016 – Current.

Selected Publications and Patents

Patents                                                                                    

  1. USTK.PO493US.P1 “Enrich and Amplify Highly Potent Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Elderly Cell Populations”. Patent Pending. Application #: PCT/US16/60624
  2. US 8,955,862 “Cycling Control System”. Filed April 26, 2013. Published February 17, 2015.

Peer-reviewed Papers                                                               

Links to my published manuscripts may be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/1lShAA63hpcQP/bibliography/49578575/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending

  1. Lucero Alvarado, Mary Navarro, Anne Sheldrake, Milos Marinkovic, Sy Griffey, Travis Block. Development of a Xeno-Free System to Isolate and Expand Human Stem Cells from Primary Tissues. PloS ONE, in preparation.
  2. T Block, P Johnson, G Kondraske. A Novel Framework for the Conception and Measurement of Stem Cell Quality Using General System Performance Theory. Stem Cells and Development, submitted.
  3. T Block, M Marinkovic, O Tran, A Marshall, DD Dean, X-D Chen. Restoring the Quantity and Quality of Elderly Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Autologous Cell-based Therapies. FASEB Journal, submitted.
  4. Travis J Block, Jaime Garza. Regenerative Cells for the Management of Osteoarthritis and Joint Disorders: A Concise Review of the Literature. Aesthetic Surgery Journal, 2017.
  5. Junjie Wu, Yun Sun, Travis J. Block, Milos Marinkovic, Zhi-Liang Zhang, Richard Chen, Yixia Yin, Juquan Song, David D Dean, Zhongding Lu, Xiao-Dong Chen. Umbilical cord blood-derived non-hematopoietic stem cells retrieved and expanded on bone marrow-derived extracellular matrices display pluripotent characteristics. Stem Cells Research and Therapy, 2016.
  6. Travis J Block, Milos Marinkovic, Jodie Gray, Charlotte Anthony, Ryan Daly, LaShauna Evans, Chase Fordtran, Elizabeth Hassan, Tara Holmgren, Aaron Horning, Sabrina Martinez-Anz, Rosemary Riggs, Thomas Vanasse, Paul Dowell, Mikaela Sifuentes, Jonathon Berman, Teresa M Evans. “Science Fiesta!” Integrating Science with Local Culture to Improve Engagement. F1000Research, 2016.
  7. Teresa Evans, Arunabh Bhattachary Yun Shi, Wenbo Qi, Travis J Block, Alakanada Ray Chaudhuri, Kara Hawker, Asish Chaudhuri, Holly Van Remmen. Moderate modulation disease in the G93A model of ALS by compound 2-(2-hydroxyphenyl)-benzoazole (HBX). Neuroscience Letters, 2016.
  8. Milos Marinkovic, Travis J Block, Rubie Rakian, Qihong Li, Exing Wang, Matthew Reilly, David D Dean, X-D Chen. One size does not fit all: Developing a cell-specific niche for in vitro study of cell behavior. Matrix Biology, 2016.
  9. Rubie Rakian*, Travis J. Block*, Shannon M. Johnson*, Milos Marinkovic, Junjie Wu, Qiuxia Dai, David D. Dean, and Xiao-Dong Chen*. Native extracellular matrix preserves mesenchymal stem cell "stemness" and differentiation potential under serum-free culture conditions. Stem Cell Research and Therapy, 2015.

Selected Abstracts                                                                   

  1. T Block, Milos Marinkovic, Olivia N. Tran, Amanda Marshall, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. A Novel Approach for Restoring Quantity and Quality of Elderly Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Autologous Cell-Based Therapies. International Society for Stem Cell Research 2017, Boston MA.
  2. T Block, Sy Griffey. A Xeno-Free 3-Dimensional Microenvironment to Enhance Stem Cell Expansion. International Society for Stem Cell Research 2017, Boston, MA. ORAL PRESENTATION
  3. Travis J Block, Milos Marinkovic, Olivia N. Tran, Amanda Marshall, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Isolation and Expansion of “Youthful” Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Elderly Populations. Experimental Biology 2017, Chicago, IL.
  4. Travis J Block, Milos Marinkovic, Olivia N. Tran, Amanda Marshall, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Rescuing Elderly Mesenchymal Stem Cell Populations. 3rd Annual RegenMedSA Meeting, San Antonio, TX. ORAL PRESENTATION.
  5. Travis J Block, Mary Navarro, Lucero Alvarado, Sy Griffey. Stem cell-derived extracellular matrix as a cell culture substrate elicits very different and desireable cell behaviors versus standard plastic substrates. EuroSciCon Advances in three-dimensional cell culture. Online Conference. ORAL PRESENTATION
  6. Travis J Block, Milos Marinkovic, Amanda Marshall, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Diamonds in the Rough: Identification, Isolation, and Expansion of Healthy Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Elderly Donors. 12th Annual World Stem Cell Summit, West Palm Beach, FL, 2016.
  7. Travis J Block, Milos Marinkovic, Amanda Marshall, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Diamonds in the Rough: Identification, Isolation, and Expansion of Healthy Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Elderly Donors. International Society for Stem Cell Research, San Fransisco, CA, 2016.
  8. Marinkovic M, Block TJ, Rakian R, Wang E, Reilly M, Dean D, and Chen X-D. To each its own: Tissue-specific extracellular matrix provides and optimal niche for studying stem cells derived from bone marrow and adipose tissues. International Society for Stem Cell Research, San Fransisco, CA, 2016.
  9. Marinkovic M, Block TJ, Rakian R, Wang E, Reilly M, Dean D, and Chen X-D: One size does not fit all: Developing a cell-specific niche for in vitro study of stem cell behavior. 11th World Stem Cell Summit, Atlanta, GA, 2015.
  10. Rakian RA, Johnson S, Block TJ, Marinkovic M, Wu J, Dean D, and Chen X-D: Native extracellular matrix preserves mesenchymal stem cell "stemness" properties under serum-free culture conditions. American Association for Dental Research Annual Meeting. Los Angeles, CA, 2015.   
  11. Travis J Block, Milos Marinkovic, Amanda Marshall, David Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Rescuing Regenerative Capacity of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Populations from the Elderly. 2015. Gordon Research Conference on Aging. Sunday River, ME.
  12. Travis J Block, Milos Marinkovic, Rubie Rakian, Amanda Marshall, David Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Development of biomarkers for Identifying aging human mesenchymal stem cells. 2014. World Stem Cell Summit. San Antonio, TX
  13. Marinkovic M, Block T, Rakian R, Wang E, Dean D, Chen XD. Tissue-specific ECMs Form the Stem Cell Niche and Display Differences in Physical, Mechanical, and Chemical Properties. 2014. World Stem Cell Summit, San Antonio, TX
  14. Marinkovic M, Block T, Dean D, Reilly M, Chen XD. Native Tissue-Specific ECMs Exhibit Distinct Mechanical Properties Affecting the Fate of hMSCs. 2014. Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society-USA. Washington, DC
  15. Travis Block, Milos Marinkovic, Amanda Marshall, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Characterization of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Populations from Old Donors. 2014. Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting. San Antonio, TX
  16. Marinkovic M, Block T, Rakian R, Dean D, Chen XD. Native Tissue-Specific ECMs Exhibit Distinct Mechanical Properties Affecting the Fate of hMSCs. 2014. Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting. San Antonio, TX
  17. RA Rakian, J Wu, TJ Block, M Marinkovic, Q Dai, XD Chen. Tissue-Specific Extracellular Matrix Guides Mesenchymal Stem Cell Differentiation. 2014. International Association for Dental Research Annual Meeting. Cape Town, South Africa
  18. Travis Block, Milos Marinkovic, Rubie Rakian, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Identification and Improvement of Aged Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells. 2014. Mikiten Research Forum. San Antonio, TX
  19. Travis Block, Milos Marinkovic, Rubie Rakian, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Development of Biomarkers for Identifying Aged Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells. 2014. American Aging Association Annual Meeting. San Antonio, TX
  20. Travis Block, Milos Marinkovic, Rubie Rakian, David D. Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Age-related Changes to the Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Phenotype. 2014. 5th Annual Frontiers of Translational Science Research Day. San Antonio, TX
  21. Travis Block, Milos Marinkovic, Rubie Rakian, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Identification of Biomarkers Related to Aged Mesenchymal Stem Cells. 2014. SA Conference on Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine. San Antonio, TX
  22. Rubie Rakian, Zhi-Liang Zhang, Travis Block, Qiuxia Dai, Zhongding Lu, Xiao-Dong Chen. Tissue Specific Extracellular Matrix Controls the Fate of Bone Marrow-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cell Differentiation. 2013. J Bone Mineral Res 28 (Suppl 1). ASBMR Annual Meeting. Washinton, DC