Spotlight Story

Pasha Hadidi
"I believe the intersection of biomaterials, biomechanics, cell biology and physiology is where unexpected new progress will come from."

A Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Engineering Department, Pasha Hadidi received his bachelor’s degree, also in biomedical engineering, from Johns Hopkins University. He has worked at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as well as firms that invest in healthcare companies.

What’s important about your research—and where do you hope to take it?

I work on growing tissue in the lab to replace the fibrocartilage in the human knee. My research focuses on using bioactive molecules to modify the extracellular matrix of tissue-engineered fibrocartilage, increase its biomechanical stiffness and strength, and enhance its biochemical content. I’m also working on ways to control the sorting and positioning of cells during tissue formation. Applications of my thesis work can be extended to orthopedics, combination medical devices, engineering of tissues in general and even diagnosis of some forms of cancer.

What are you most passionate about in your work?

I’m lucky to be working in a time when discoveries in my field are being made daily. I chose to study biomedical engineering as a high school senior because it is the engineering field in which anticipated breakthroughs have the greatest potential for positive societal change. I think it’s amazing that we can now grow living, mechanically robust tissue from scratch—which I do in the Athanasiou Lab daily. Additionally, tissue engineering discoveries hold the power to provide medical advances not only in their own field, but also in related fields. Our work is very interdisciplinary, and I believe the intersection of biomaterials, biomechanics, cell biology and physiology is where unexpected new progress will come from.

How will the Business Development Fellows program help you to change the world?

I have a deep desire to bring promising new technologies to the broader public. I want to further my connections to investors, entrepreneurs, scientists and engineers in Northern California. I want to learn more about how to lead technical teams, and what it takes to turn a scientific or engineering idea into a viable product. I hope this program will further sharpen my pitching and business plan writing skills. I want to build these skill sets so that I will be well positioned to move technical ideas from the lab bench and into the real world.