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In Memoriam of Teng Ma, Ph.D.

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FAMU-FSU Engineering

Teng Ma earned his BS in Chemical Engineering from Tianjin University, China in 1989, his MS in Biosystems Engineering from the University of Hawaii in 1994, and his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Ohio State University in 1999. Following a postdoctoral position at the Ohio State University Medical Center OB/GYN Department, he joined the Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. Dr. Ma progressed through the ranks as an Assistant Professor (2000-6), Associate Professor (2006-11), and Professor (2011-present). He was a member of the Molecular Biophysics Graduate Faculty at Florida State University from 2001 to present. In 2008, Dr. Ma was recipient of the Developing Scholar Award at FSU. Research in Dr. Ma’s group focused on understanding the cellular, physiological and biomechanical processes of tissue regeneration using adult mesenchymal stem cells and on developing enabling technology in cell therapy and tissue regeneration.

Teng Ma, Ph.D. headshot
Teng Ma, Ph.D.

Dr. Ma was the first professor hired into the Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering who had specific graduate and postdoctoral training and research experience in biomedical engineering. During the late 1990s, the Department developed plans to expand research and education in this field with the specific goal to build upon the strengths and foundation of chemical engineering. With degrees in chemical engineering and advanced training and research foci in the areas of human cell and tissue growth, Dr. Ma was an ideal fit. He was a pioneering biomedical engineering researcher in the field of tissue engineering, which seeks to develop techniques for replacing tissue such as bone, skin, muscle and cartilage, as well as more complex organs.

Dr. Ma’s research focus was on developing engineering approaches to tissue, and more broadly cellular, engineering by studying the growth of a variety of human cell types within highly controlled and defined environments, termed bioreactors. Dr. Ma focused the majority of his efforts on the study and optimization of adult mesenchymal stem cells, which are harvested from bone marrow or adipose and used to make a variety of other types of cells through a process called differentiation. He and his team made seminal contributions to bioreactor development for mesenchymal stem cell production focusing on the engineering of polymeric matrices (scaffolds) and the analysis of the microenvironment for cell growth, including such factors as oxygen supply (hypoxia), fluid shear forces, compaction and three dimensional culture on cell growth and differentiation. His research provided key contributions to the development of perfusion bioreactors to optimize and control not only growth but the conditioning of these cells for use in different pathological environments. He also worked in bone tissue engineering including analysis of chondrocytes. He and colleagues pioneered magnetic resonance methods to analyze these bioreactors and their products, and his recent research included the exploration of cell therapy applied to stroke treatment using individual mesenchymal stem cells and 3D aggregates. His recent research also focused on the metabolic reconfiguration and analysis of mesenchymal stem cell physiology to reverse senescence in aged cells as a means of recovering therapeutic efficacy and expanding clinical utility.

Dr. Ma was awarded four US patents for his innovative bioreactor design and regenerative technology, and published over 100 high quality and highly cited journal papers with support from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, American Heart Association and Florida Biomedical Research Program. He was an alumnus of the US Frontiers of Engineering (2006) and German and US Frontiers of Engineering (2010) by the US National Academy of Engineering. In 2017, he was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering for “seminal contributions to metabolic characterization, bioengineering innovations, and bioreactor design for human mesenchymal stem cells.”

Dr. Ma was an excellent mentor to graduate and undergraduate students as well as postdoctoral associates. Many of his students and postdoctoral scholars now are faculty members at major universities including Johns Hopkins University, Florida State University and Michigan Technological University, while others have gone on to positions in industry (e.g., Amgen, Merck) and government.

He was the Department Chair of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering from 2014 to present, for which he was leading efforts to establish an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and expanding the graduate programs. His dedication to the Department, his profession, and his students and colleagues was exemplary, and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him.