Swathi Balaji

Dr. Balaji is a bioengineer/ principal investigator who has dedicated 17 years towards investigating how the crosstalk of extracellular matrix (ECM), inflammation, metabolism and mechanotransduction influence wound healing. The cutting-edge basic science and translational research in their lab focuses on understanding how postnatal dermal wounds heal and why patients with virtually identical injuries undergo tissue repair in a distinctively heterogeneous manner. Thier NIH-funded research aims to define a role for fibroblast energy metabolism and exosome mediated cellular crosstalk in the regulation of wound healing outcomes. These studies are the first to identify dermal fibroblast aerobic glycolysis response under tension and exosome-mediate cellular communication as potential biomarkers of a patients’ scarring with a compelling potential to translate bench findings into bedside clinical applications, in both planning of surgeries and patient education. Dr. Balaji has a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering degree from Osmania University, India (2002), work experience as a Design Engineer in Caterpillar (2005), a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati (2010), and five years of award- winning post-doctoral research work experience at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital (2015). In 2015, she moved to Houston to start her own laboratory as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at the Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital. She has set up a state-of-the-art wound healing laboratory from ground up at the Texas Children’s hospital Feigin Center, and build an interdisciplinary surgical and bioengineering research and training platform, where her lab explores new collaborative research directions in wound healing. By leveraging patient data,
and genomic and proteomic information, her lab builds novel preclinical models including murine, porcine and human skin xenotransplant wound/infection models to design and develop patented biomaterials and personalized therapies to improve healing and strive for clinical translation of the regenerative mechanisms they discover. The research from her lab is published in top tier journals including Science, Annals of Surgery, Journal of Clinical Investigation and FASEB. She has won several accolades that include the Young Investigator and Rising Star Awards from the Wound Healing Society and the World Union of Wound Healing Societies, chaired the Wound Healing Society annual meeting program in 2022. She serves as an NIH study section ad-hoc reviewer, and reviewers for WHS and Dunn foundation. She prides in mentoring the next generation of scientists and her students and fellows have won several prestigious awards in wound healing and bioengineering, and Dr. Balaji received the Samuel Sthal research mentorship award from pediatric surgery department, which is one of the highest honors within their department.



WHS General Session: Talking About Wounds: Communication Pathways Within A Complex Process

Thursday, May 16, 2024
4:45 PM - 5:45 PM