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 elderlyLaboratory 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.

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

I received an adjunct appointment to the faculty of the department of comprehensive dentistry at the University of Texas Health at San Antonio.  In this capacity, I continue to facilitate collaborations between faculty members at the university and StemBioSys, where I work full-time as a Senior Scientist.

Founder/President – San Antonio Science, Inc.                           11/15 – 06/18

In order to promote greater awareness, understanding, and enthusiasm for science in San Antonio, I founded San Antonio Science, Inc.  San Antonio Science is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting local science through outreach, and education.  Specifically, we aimed 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

  • 2012 – present     The Order of the Engineer
  • 2015 – present     American Academy for the Advancement of Science
  • 2011 – 2018          Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
  • 2016 – 2018          Sigma Xi
  • 2015 – 2017          New York Academy of Science
  • 2014 – 2017          Society for Biomaterials
  • 2014 – 2017          American Aging Association
  • 2012 – 2017          The Rehabilitative Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA)

Current and Recent Leadership Positions

  • 2017 – present     Animal Care Services – Advisory Board (COSA District 8 Appointee)
  • 2016 – present     University of Rochester Hajim School of Engineering - Young Leadership Council Member
  • 2016 – present     University of Rochester – Young Alumni Council Member
  • 2015 – 2018          San Antonio Science, Inc. – Founder / President
  • 2015 - 2018           Science Fiesta – Founder and Chief Organizer
  • 2017                      University of Rochester Class of 2012 – Reunion Committee Member
  • 2015 – 2016          Graduate Student Association – President
  • 2015                      Science Career, Communication, & Outreach Symposium – Co-Organizer
  • 2014 – 2016          Society for Biomaterials – Chapter President
  • 2014 – 2015          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

  • 2017       UT Health SA Graduate School Valedictory Address - UT Health SA, San Antonio, TX
  • 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

  • 2018       Cell Therapy: Academic vs. Industry Research and How We All Manage to Get it Wrong. NIDA T32                 Chalk Talk.
  • 2018       There’s no place like home! Cell-derived extracellular matrices for cell culture. International Society                  for Stem Cell Research. Annual Meeting.
  • 2018       Panel: The Bioscience Ecosystem. Leadership San Antonio Healthcare and Bioscience Day.
  • 2017       Changing the Paradigm of Cell Culture Methods. Harvard Stem Cell Institute Seminar Series.
  • 2017       Biomimetic Micro Environments for Biologically Relevant Cell Culture and Applications for the                           Treatment of Degenerative Diseases. The South Texas Center for Emerging and Infectious                               Diseases Seminar Series.
  • 2017       Ending the In Vitro Compromise. International Society for Stem Cell Research Annual Meeting.
  • 2017       UT Health SA Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Valedictory Address. UT Health SA.
  • 2017       Rejuvenating elderly stem cell populations for autologous cell-based therapies. 3rd Annual                               RegenMedSA Meeting.
  • 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, Topics in Translational Research Seminar.
  • 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. 
  • 2015       Rescuing the regenerative capacity of human mesenchymal stem cell populations from the elderly.                 World Stem Cell Summit, The Best of the Best: Poster and Young Investigator Oral Presentations.
  • 2015       High-performance microenvironments to enhance quality and quantity of expanded stem cells                       from elderly donors.  StemBioSys technology showcase dinner.

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 Regeneration
07/2016 – 10/2016.

Research Grants

Institute for the Integration of Medicine and Science Small Project Grants (NIH/NCATS)
Evaluating Efficacy of Community Outreach on Implementing a Healthy Diet. 
$5,000                       3/1/18-2/28/19

Small Business Innovation Research Phase I (NIH)
Expansion of “Youthful” Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Elderly Individuals for Autologous Cell-Based Therapies
$150,000               PENDING

Small Business Innovation Research Phase I (NSF)
Chondrocyte-derived matrix for expansion and phenotype maintenance of human chondrocytes.
$249,999               PENDING

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.

Book Chapters                                                                                    

  1. Block TJ, Dean DD, Chen X-D (2018). What should we learn from this book?, A Roadmap to Non-Hematopoietic Stem Cell-Based Therapeutics: From Bench to Clinic. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Elsevier.
  2. Block TJ, Dean DD, Chen X-D (2018). Use of Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Anti-Aging Therapies. A Roadmap to Non-Hematopoietic Stem Cell-Based Therapeutics: From Bench to Clinic. Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Elsevier.

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. Yong Mao, Travis Block, Anya Singh-Varma, Anne Sheldrake, Rachel Leeth, Sy Griffey, Joachim Kohn. Extracellular matrix derived from chondrocytes promotes rapid expansion of human primary chondrocytes in vitro with reduced dedifferentiation. Acta Biomaterialia, Submitted.
  2. Travis Block, Milos Marinkovic, Mary Navarro, Lucero Alvarado, Sy Griffey. Human platelet lysate enables xeno-free manufacture of cell-derived matrix without compromising composition, architecture, or function. Cytotechnology, Submitted.
  3. M Marinkovic, Travis J Block, G Kondraske. Towards a unified “quality” framework for cell-based therapies. Cytotherapy, Submitted.
  4. 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. Stem Cells Research and Therapy, 2017.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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. Travis J. Block, Yong Mao, Anya Singh-Varma, Joachim Kohn, Anne Sheldrake, Sy Griffey. Cell-derived matrix promotes in vitro expansion and phenotype retention of primary human chondrocytes. International Society for Cellular Therapy 2018, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
  2. T Block, Milos Marinkovic, Olivia N. Tran, Amanda Marshall, David D Dean, Xiao-Dong Chen. Rescuing the Regenerative Potential of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells from the Elderly. Meeting on the Mesa 2017, La Jolla, CA.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.   
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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