Allison M. Andrews, 37
PhD biomedical engineering ’12
Assistant professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University
Allison M. Andrews’ interest in understanding human physiology has propelled her to investigate ways to simulate tissue environments on a chip. From her days as a graduate student at Drexel, she became fascinated with the biomechanics of fluid flow within the vasculature and the commonality that the vascular system has with so many ubiquitous health ailments such as high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes and cancer. Her unique perspective as a biomedical engineer has resulted in two patents, funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), numerous publications in high-impact journals and other accolades. As an assistant professor at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University, she has developed a premier program that focuses on the use of microfluidics, tissue engineering, and 3D printing to recreate the neurovascular unit (NVU) on a chip. “These powerful tools have endless applications, but I’m most excited about the exquisite details such devices can provide for studying neuroinflammation, such as that seen in HIV infection, sepsis, neurotrauma or multiple sclerosis,” she says. Her work hasn’t been lost on the NIH; in 2019, Andrews received the highly competitive and coveted NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award to explore immune-endothelial interactions. Notably, she has expanded her purview to include the study of cellular events associated with SARS-CoV-2 in order to better understand the neurological deficits seen in COVID-19 patients. Her co-authored studies on SARS-CoV-2 in the December issue of the Neurobiology of Disease is currently one of the top-read and top–cited papers in the journal.
In her own words…
My Greatest Accomplishment: I feel as though my greatest accomplishments are still yet to come. However, scientifically speaking, I am most proud of my efforts to spotlight to the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA/NIH) that biomedical engineering can be a powerful tool in the field of drug abuse research.
How Drexel Helped Me: During my PhD in Drexel’s School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, I had the opportunity to think creatively, to design something new and patentable, and to lead my own project. This experience gave me the confidence and experience to continue to generate new ideas and push the boundaries of current areas of research.
What Success Looks Like to Me: Success to me is having a career that I am passionate about, that makes me feel as though I’m not “working” while leaving a lasting contribution to science and future scientists.
How the Past Year Has Influenced Me: It has challenged me and helped me to be more resilient and flexible.
My Top Post-Pandemic Plan: Spending time interacting face-to-face with colleagues. Traveling for scientific conferences.