Olivia Burnsed

Graduate Research Assistant


Olivia graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in the fall of 2012 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineering with a Research Option Certificate. As an undergraduate, Olivia worked for three years in the Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine Laboratory at Georgia Tech under Drs. Barbara Boyan and Zvi Schwartz. Her initial project there was on encapsulated adipose derived stem cells and their ability to stimulate cartilage regeneration. She was mentored by Dr. René Olivares-Navarete for her independent senior thesis project, which focused on hydrogels created from decellularized shark and pig cartilages for the promotion of chondrogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells from which she has a first author publication. Olivia also interned with Dr. Stephen Badylak at the University of Pittsburgh as an NSF REU recipient in the summer of 2011. There, Olivia’s project focused on porcine dermis and urinary bladder extracellular matrix coated polypropylene meshes for use in stomach hernia repair. Olivia joined the McDevitt laboratory in the fall of 2012 as a Ph.D. student in Bioengineering and joined the Guldberg laboratory in the spring of 2014. Her various research experiences as an undergraduate have inspired her current research on studying the ability of the extracellular matrix to modulate stem cell differentiation and cytokine production.

Outside of her studies, Olivia enjoys traveling, dancing, and teaching dance; she is nationally ranked by the World Swing Dance Council and teaches at multiple venues in Atlanta.

LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/olivia-burnsed-b235725a

Current Research

Cartilage has a limited capacity to heal and regenerate due to its low cellularity and avascular nature. As a result, osteoarthritis (OA) affects nearly 27 million adults in the US and there are no clinically proven disease modifying therapies, leading to nearly half a million total knee replacements annually. Autologous chondrocyte implantation is the only clinically approved cellular therapy for chondral defects in the US, but the inability to expand chondrocytes to sufficient numbers without adversely affecting their phenotype remains a significant problem. Additionally, the multiple inflammatory mediators involved in the initiation and perpetuation of OA hinder the efficacy of cellular therapies. The inherent immunomodulatory capabilities of MSCs offer a potent alternative to conventional drug treatment regimens due to their ability to regulate multiple signaling pathways and cell types of innate and adaptive immunity. The primary objective of this study is to engineer an improved cartilage repair strategy by combining cells and extracellular matrix(ECM)-derived materials. Specifically, this work will (i) develop cartilage-derived microcarriers for chondrocyte expansion (ii) determine the effect of tissue-specific ECM-derived materials on the chondrogenesis, cell expansion, and secretion of anti-inflammatory factors, and (iii) characterize the effect of MSC delivery format, via single cells, spheroids, with and without ECM-derived materials, on OA progression in a post-traumatic small animal model. This work will increase the scientific community's understanding of the role of ECM-derived materials in influencing cell phenotype, expansion, and secretome as well as the effect of culture format and delivery on MSC-mediated immunomodulatory activity.

Additional Info

Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience

Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Georgia Institute of Technology & Emory University