ROLAND KAUNAS - TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY

Dr. Roland Kaunas is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Programs in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas A&M University. He is also the Associate Director of the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing, Director of the Regenerative Engineering Foundry, and a Co-Director of the TEES Institute for Manufacturing Systems. Dr. Kaunas is an active member of ARMI and the point of contact at Texas A&M University. He recently developed and delivered two courses supported by his ARMI EWD grant – "Engineered Cell Manufacturing for Technicians" and "Quality by Design for Graduate Engineers". The first course addresses qualification and operation of bioreactors for cell therapy products. The second course provides an introduction to Quality by Design and Design of Experiments applied to cell culture in a distance learning format. Dr. Kaunas is also the PI for a subaward from the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI)-led ARMI project Development and Manufacturing of a Novel, Single-use and Scalable Cell Expansion Bioreactor System, where he will oversee the validation and scale-up studies for expansion of bone marrow-derived human mesenchymal stem cells with the bioreactor fabricated at SWRI. Prior to working with ARMI, Dr. Kaunas helped to establish Advanced Biomanufacturing as a new focus area for the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). In 2016, he organized a joint annual meeting of the established BMES Cell and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE) Special Interest Group (SIG) and the newly created Advanced Biomanufacturing (ABioM) SIG. After serving as Chair of the CMBE SIG, Dr. Kaunas is now the Secretary of the ABioM SIG. in these roles, he has advocated for attracting more involvement of industry related to CMBE and ABioM within the programming of BMES national meetings. Dr. Kaunas’ laboratory focuses on the engineering of micro-tissues containing mesenchymal stem cells as vehicles for regenerating musculoskeletal tissues and as cell-based models for studying bone tumor biology. This work employs microfluidic platforms, custom bioreactors, additive manufacturing and novel scaffolding strategies involving composites of natural and synthetic polymers. Dr. Kaunas’ group also studies how mechanical stresses and strains, such as tensile stretch and fluid shear stress, regulate cell function in vascular tissues, including arteries, capillaries and lymphatics. This work involves integration of experiments and theory to elucidate the roles of intracellular contractility, applied forces and scaffold material properties on cell architecture and transduction of mechanical stimuli into intracellular signals leading to changes in cell behavior.