Date(s) - 01/19/2024
9:00 am - 10:00 am
Rebecca A. Wachs, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Systems Engineering. Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources College of Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Date: Friday, January 19, 2024
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Location: PSH 152
Chronic low back pain is an epidemic that affects up to 20% of the population in their lifetime. Many chronic low back pain patients exhibit degeneration and inflammation of their intervertebral disc concurrent with a loss of disc mechanical integrity and infiltration of nerve fibers. Despite this knowledge, current treatments do not target these potentially causal features and rather focus on treating the painful symptoms. One of the major challenges in the testing of therapeutics for chronic low back pain is the lack of pre-clinical models that adequately replicate the human condition. Our lab recently created a rat model of chronic low back pain that more accurately mimics human pain presentation and disease pathology, thus enabling screening of targeted therapeutics. This seminar will discuss our rat model of chronic low back pain as well as the development of novel treatments to target aberrant nerve growth, inflammation, and altered mechanics to alleviate pain. Treatments that directly target mechanistic features driving chronic low back pain have the potential to circumvent the need for addictive opioid therapies or invasive spinal fusion procedures, thereby reducing pain without additional complications.
Dr. Becky Wachs is an assistant professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Biological Systems Engineering Department. Dr. Wachs completed her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, her master’s and doctoral degrees in Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and her postdoctoral work in Neural Engineering at the University of Florida. Over the past 15 years, Dr. Wachs has worked in two different industry positions in microscopy and biologics, where she too worked with end user and clinicians to develop patient-centered solutions. Her current research focuses on engineering treatments for and developing models of chronic orthopedic pain and is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. In her free time, Dr. Wachs likes to read, bake, and take hikes with her husband and their two dogs.