Michelle C. LaPlaca, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a joint department between Georgia Tech and Emory University. Dr. LaPlaca earned her undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, in 1991 and her M.S.E. (1992) and Ph.D. (1996) in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, in the area of neuronal injury biomechanics. Following post-doctoral training in Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania’s Head Injury Center from 1996-98, she joined the faculty at Georgia Tech. Dr. LaPlaca’s research interests are in neurotrauma, specifically: traumatic brain injury, injury biomechanics, cell culture modeling of traumatic injury, neural tissue engineering, and cognitive impairment associated with brain injury and aging. Her research is funded by NIH, NSF, and the Coulter Foundation.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
Research Focus Areas:
Molecular, Cellular and Tissue Biomechanics
LaPlaca's broad research interests are in neurotrauma, injury biomechanics, and neuroengineering as they relate to traumatic brain injury (TBI). The goals are to better understand acute injury mechanisms in order to develop strategies for neuroprotection, neural repair, and more sensitive diagnostics. More specifically, the lab studies mechanotransduction mechanisms, cellular tolerances to traumatic loading, and plasma membrane damage, including mechanoporation and inflammatory- & free radical-induced damage. We are coupling these mechanistic-based studies with ‚Äìomics discovery in order to identify new biomarker candidates. In addition, LaPlaca and colleagues have developed and patented an abbreviated, objective clinical neuropsychological tool (Display Enhanced Testing for Cognitive Impairment and Traumatic Brain Injury, DETECT) to assess cognitive impairment associated with concussion and mild cognitive impairment. An immersive environment, coupled with an objective scoring algorithm, make this tool attractive for sideline assessment of concussion in athletic settings. Through working on both basic and clinical levels she is applying systems engineering approaches to elucidate the complexity of TBI and promoting bidirectional lab-to-clinical translation.
Center for Bio-Imaging Mass Spectrometry, Marcus Center for Therapeutic Cell Characterization and Manufacturing (MC3M), Regenerative Engineering and Medicine (REM)