Wafa Tawackoli, Ph.D.

Technical Director, Research Imaging Core and Micro/Molecular Imaging, Biomedical Sciences

Phone:(310) 423-8070

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Academic Affairs

Awards and Activities

Distinguished Alumni Award Nomination2009
International Society of Biomechanics Dissertation Grant2006
Best Presentation: HSEMB 2005 (Robotic Session)2003
National American Institute of Chemical Engineers Annual Student Research Awards2000
Rice University Fellowshiop2000 - 2006
Sam A. Wilson Award 2000
Robert Vaughan Award 2000
Winner of Senior Design Contest in Chemical Engineering 2000
Tau Beta Pi 2000 - 2013
Golden Key National Honors Society 2000 - 2013
Regional Research Competition: 1st place at Washington University 1999
Regional Research Competition: 2nd place at Iowa State University 1999
Winner of Best Research Paper in Chemical Engineering/Toxicology 1999
President's Honor Roll 1998 - 1999
Toxicology Fellowships 1998 - 1999
Dean's Honor Roll 1997 - 2000
Best Student Award in Physics 1994
Best Student Award in General Studies 1994
Comparative MedicineCurrent
Stem Cells Translation MedicineCurrent
European Spine JournalCurrent
Annals of Biomedical Engineering. Position: ReviewerCurrent
Orthopedic Research Society2000
Biomedical Engineering Society2000
American Society of Biomechanics 2001
World Molecular Imaging Society2006

Research Focus

Imaging stem cell-based skeletal tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine; Investigating the use of broad range of imaging modalities to track and to characterize different stages of adult stem cells, derived from various tissues of the human body, for the regeneration of bone, cartilage, tendon/ligament and the intervertebral disc; Combining isolated stem cells with differentiation-inducing genes and biodegradable scaffolds could lead to novel therapeutic solutions for patients suffering from non-union fractures, osteoarthritis, tendon tears, osteoporosis and spine disorders.

Research Contributions

Investigated tissue regeneration using mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from the iliac crest, TMJ, adipose tissue and the intervertebral disc; Pioneering aspects of surgical procedures, in vivo implantation, and in vivo imaging, using different imaging modalities, of small and large animals; Leader in the use of molecular imaging in stem cell-based skeletal tissue engineering.

Current investigations include:

Development of novel tracers and multimodality imaging systems for stem cell tracking in vivo. Injectable, genetically modified, mesenchymal stem cells to treat osteoporotoic vertebral fractures and interebertebral disc degeneration; Translational imaging and biomechanics of spine and tissue engineering.

Selected Publications

  1. Sheyn D, Kallai I, Tawackoli W, Cohn Yakubovich D, Oh A, Su S, Da X, Lavi A, Kimelman-Bleich N, Zilberman Y, Li N, Bae H, Gazit Z, Pelled G, Gazit D: Gene-modified adult stem cells regenerate vertebral bone defect in a rat model. Mol. Pharm., 8(5): 1592-601, 2011
  2. Fahim DK, Sun K, Tawackoli W, Mendel E, Rhines LD, Burton AW, Kim DH, Ehni BL, Liebschner MA: Premature adjacent vertebral fracture after vertebroplasty: a biomechanical study. Neurosurgery, 69(3): 733-44, 2011
  3. Kallai I, Mizrahi O, Tawackoli W, Gazit Z, Pelled G, Gazit D: Microcomputed tomography-based structural analysis of various bone tissue regeneration models. Nat Protoc, 6(1): 105-10, 2011
  4. Sheyn D, Rüthemann M, Mizrahi O, Kallai I, Zilberman Y, Tawackoli W, Kanim LE, Zhao L, Bae H, Pelled G, Snedeker JG, Gazit D: Genetically modified mesenchymal stem cells induce mechanically stable posterior spine fusion. Tissue Eng Part A, 16(12): 3679-86, 2010
  5. Kimelman-Bleich N, Pelled G, Zilberman Y, Kallai I, Mizrahi O, Tawackoli W, Gazit Z, Gazit D: Targeted gene-and-host progenitor cell therapy for nonunion bone fracture repair. Mol. Ther., 19(1): 53-9, 2010
  6. Kimelman-Bleich N, Pelled G, Sheyn D, Kallai I, Zilberman Y, Mizrahi O, Tal Y, Tawackoli W, Gazit Z, Gazit D: The use of a synthetic oxygen carrier-enriched hydrogel to enhance mesenchymal stem cell-based bone formation in vivo. Biomaterials, 30(27): 4639-48, 2009