Shannon Tessier, PhD

Dr. TESSIER

Address: 51 Blossom St., Boston, MA
Phone: 617-952-9192
Fax: 617-573-9471

Contact by email

EDUCATION AND TRAINING

  • MSc and PhD, Carleton University

RESEARCH THRUSTS

Shannon N. Tessier, PhD

  • Investigator at the Center for Engineering in Medicine
  • Instructor in Surgery (Bioengineering), Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital

BRIEF BIOGRAPHY

Shannon Tessier, PhD, received her MSc and PhD in molecular biology and biochemistry from Carleton University in 2010 and 2014, respectively. She applied a wide range of molecular and cell biology approaches aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms which support natural suspended animation.

As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr. Tessier expanded her skillset into the field of biomedical engineering by joining the Center for Engineering in Medicine in 2014. Here, she applied her expertise in low temperature biology to develop new methods for whole blood stabilization to facilitate microfluidic processing and liquid biopsies for diagnostics. Further, she leveraged microfluidic, tissue engineering, and encapsulation technologies to develop new cryopreservation methods.

RESEARCH SUMMARY

The core of Dr. Tessier’s research program is the translation of lessons from nature to the bedside. More specifically, naturally occurring suspended animation occurs in species from seven different orders of mammals, suggesting the underlying machinery responsible for this phenomenon is present in all mammals, including humans. The ability to slow biological time would help increase the shelf life of organs for transplantation, aid the treatment of acute events such as cardiac arrest, heart attack, or stroke, facilitate delivery of aid to mass casualty situations resulting from natural disaster or war, and enable long-term space travel, among other significant implications in human health and disease. To effectively translate these positive survival strategies to organisms without this natural capacity, we take an interdisciplinary approach which applies techniques and tools from molecular and cell biology to tissue and bio-engineering.

One area of focus is the application of suspended animation to solve the organ shortage. A critical bottleneck to overcoming the organ shortage is the development of strategies that prolong the length of time organs can remain alive during transport. We are developing a high subzero preservation method that mimics “freeze-tolerance” exhibited by wood frogs in nature which will extend preservation duration from hours to days. We call this method “partial freezing” since ice crystals are restricted to extra-organ and vasculature spaces, and only some water is trapped as ice.

A second area of focus is to use lessons from nature to develop preservation techniques for the field of blood-based diagnostics. Peripheral blood is the most frequently accessed tissue in the clinic; however, the moment blood is removed from its native environment a multitude of degradation pathways are initiated. Improvement of current blood preservation practices has the potential to enable new diagnostic tests and reduce the frequency of clinical errors and misdiagnosis. Furthermore, increasing storage durations would enable the broad dissemination of new diagnostic technologies by reducing the impact of geographical barriers. We are developing a preservation method which uses hypothermic storage temperatures to slow metabolism and degradation processes, effectively extending standard blood processing times by up to 36-times.

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