Maribel Vazquez


Biomedical Engineering

Office Hours: By appointment
Website: The Rutgers VazLab


Technical Areas: Microfluidic Systems; Stem Cell Transplantation; Muller and Schwann Glia; Electro-chemotaxis   

My research integrates design of biomedical engineering (BME) systems with mechanistic biology and clinical application. The laboratory has developed microfluidic systems to correlate cell migration with altered signaling pathways across a wide range of bio-applications, including repair of the central, visual and peripheral nervous systems (NS). My current projects focus on neuronal and glial cell replacements and their implications for regenerative, cell-based therapies across the NS. I have additionally integrated my research with educational initiatives in health disparities (HD) to address the profound diversity of health challenges among USA adults.  The laboratory has been awarded funding for research and educational initiatives from the NIH (General Medicine, Cancer, Eye), NSF (Chemical, Bioengineering and Transport Systems, National Nanotechnology Initiative) and DoD (Office of Scientific Research). 


Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) 
Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, 1992 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)  Cambridge, MA
Master of Science (M.S.), Mechanical Engineering, 1996
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Cambridge, MA
Doctor of Science (Sc.D.), Mechanical Engineering, 2001



Mechanical Engineer-Cleanroom Support, Intel Corporation (Portland, OR):    1992-1994

Cleanroom Development and Micro-contamination, Intel Corporation (Santa Clara, CA):   1994-1996        

Teaching Assistant, MIT Dept. of Mechanical Engineering (Cambridge, MA):    1997-1999        

Research Assistant, MIT Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research (Cambridge, MA):    1999-2001        

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, City College of New York (CCNY):    2001-2002        

Assistant Professor and Co-founding Member, Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, CCNY:    2002-2005       

Associate Professor (tenured), Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, CCNY (NY):    2006-2018        

Associate Professor, Dept. of Biochemistry, Graduate City University of New York (NY):    2006-2018        

Associate Professor (tenured), Dept. of Biomedical Engineering, Rutgers University (NJ):    2019- Present


2021 Guest Editor, Micromachines: Microfluidic Platforms for the Nervous System  (Publisher: MDPI)

2020 Inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) Class of 2020.

2019 Keynote Speaker, Fairleigh Dickinson University (Madison, NJ) Inaugural Meeting of the FDU Women in Science Nov 6, 2019. Women at the Eye and STEM of Society

2018 Keynote Speaker, University of Florida (Gainesville) 7th Annual Pruitt Research Day Nov 16, 2018. The Eye in Biomedical Engineering: The Unknown and the Unexpected

2017 Keynote speaker at BCC Hidden Figures: Women in STEM Luncheon, Bronx Community College

2017 Invited Speaker at Gordon Research Conference in Microfluidics, Lucca (Barga) Italy: Microfluidics for the Visual System

2017 Winner of President's Award for Excellence: Recognizes CCNY faculty members for their innovative approaches in mentoring, research, teaching, scholarship and serving as exemplary models for excellence in scholarship, teaching and student success. 

2015 Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine, CUNY Decade of Science (August 7, 2015)   

2013 Univision Televised Reporting (Channel 41), 'STEM and the Elusive Latina Role Model,' (August 12, 2013; Starts at 18:15min)

2013 New York City Council, Televised Panel Discussion led by State Senator Y. Rodriguez, 'CUNY Stem Initiatives,' September 17, 2013

2012 Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine, Latina Faculty Reshaping (February 27, 2012) 

2011  Keynote Speaker, New York City Science and Engineering Fair (NYCSeF) at the American Museum of Natural History (Opening for visit from US President Barack Obama, 'Bitten by the Science Bug' (March 29, 2011)

2011 Keynote Speaker Podcast, CUNY Lecture Series: The Science of Female Negotiation (Dec 20, 2011) 

Professional Affiliations

SOCIETY MEMBERSHIPS: Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES); The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO); American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE); Society of Women Engineers (SWE); Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)      

ACADEMIC LEADERSHIP: Biomedical Engineering Society Health Disparities Special Interest Group (BMES 2015-17); Coulter College for Translation of BME Innovation (2015-2017); ABET coordinator (CCNY 2010-2016); Master’s in Translational Medicine (MTM) Founding Committee for Biodesign (CCNY 2015-2018); Co-founding faculty member of the CCNY BME Department (2002-2005).

COMMUNITY OUTREACH: Invited panelist: Importance of Minority Serving Institutions (NSF 2014-2017); HBCU/MSI Career Panels (DoD 2009-2011), Minority Partnership Programs (NIH 2004-2008); Media: Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine: CUNY Decade of Science (2015); Univision STEM and the Elusive Role Model (2013, Channel 41); New York City Council (State Senator Y. Rodriguez) Televised Discussion of STEM initiatives (2013); CUNY Lecture Series: The Science of Female Negotiation (2011 Keynote Speaker Podcast). Student Societies: Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) Graduate Research Symposium Chair (2009-2012), Northeast Regional Conference session chair (2002-2005); Society of Women Engineers (SWE) CUNY faculty advisor (2001-2008).

MENTORING ACTIVITIES: President’s Award for Excellence in Research, Mentoring and Teaching (2017 CCNY); Biomedical Engineering Society Department Diversity Award (2015, BMES); Young Leadership Award (2012, 100 Hispanic NY Women Inc.); Mentoring Awards: NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (2010, CCNY); Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for Minority Education (2007); NSF Bridge to the Doctorate Programs and Faculty Mentoring (2005); CUNY High School Summer STEM Institute Research Director (2014-2018).

CONFERENCE ENGAGEMENT: Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) conference abstract reviewer (2006-2014), session co-chair (glial engineering 2013, microenvironments 2011-2012, cell motility 2009 and cancer metastasis 2005-2007) and track co-chair (micro- and nano-technologies 2015). BMES Special Interest Groups in Cell and Molecular Bioengineering (2012-2017), Health Disparities (2014-2017), National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) industry initiatives (2017) and Coulter College for Translation of BME Innovation (2014-2017). American Institute of Chemical Engineering (AIChE) conference abstract reviewer (2001-2006) and co-chair of AIChE joint session with American Electrophoresis Society (2003-2002).

PROFESSIONAL SERVICE: Proposal reviewer for NSF (EECS, 2005-2009, MRI, 2005-2007, CBET 2003-2009, NER 2003-2006). Proposal reviewer for NIH (ISD study section ad-hoc 2007-2017, Special Emphasis Panel (NEI 2016, NIBIB 2013-2017, NIGMS 2010-2012, NCI 2008-2010), Shared Instrumentation Panel (NIBIB 2009, NIGMS 2006-2007). Reviewer of State Awards: Louisiana Innovation in Engineering Research Fund (2010-2012); University of Connecticut Internal Grants (2011-2009); Ohio Office for the Advancement of Research Scholarship (2008-2009). Reviewer of International Awards: Universidad Panamericana de Cuenca (Ecuador, 2013-2015); Universidad de Monterrey (Mexico, 2011-2012); University of British Columbia (Canada, 2008-2011). Journal reviewer for: Analytical Chemistry, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Biosensors, Brain Research, Journal of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Journal of Pediatric Biochemistry, Nanomedicine, Nature Communications; MIT Corporation Visiting Committee Mechanical Engineering (2002-2010).

Research Interests

TECHNOLOGY PLATFORMS: Microfluidics-Based Biosystems; Nanotechnology and Intracellular Imaging

BIOLOGY EMPHASIS: Cell Motility and Collective Migration; Glial and Neuronal Progenitor Biology; Neuromuscular Junction (NMJ)

CLINICAL TRANSLATION: Photoreceptor Transplantation; Schwann Cell Delivery; Health Disparities 

EDUCATION AND OUTREACH: Health Disparities Challenges for Engineers; Biodesign and Innovation for Engineers; Undergraduate Research Programs


Selected Publications

Recent Peer-reviewed Manuscripts (ORCID: 0000-0002-6184-3103):

Vazquez, M., 'Microfluidic and Microscale Assays to Examine Regeneratie Strategies in the Neuro Retina', Micromachines (Accepted 12.2020) 

Cliver, R.N.; Ayers, B.; Brady, A.; Firestein, B.L.; Vazquez, M., 'Cerebrospinal fluid replacement solutions promote neuroglia migratory behaviors and spinal explant outgrowth in microfluidic culture,' Journal of Tissue Eng Regen Med.  (Accepted 11. 2020)

Vazquez, M., 'Teaching tips to enrich remote student engagement in transport phenomena using a hybrid teaching and assessment model', Biomedical Engineering Education (Published online 08.2020)

Pena, J.S.; Vazquez, M., 'Characterization of VEGF-EGFR interaction in Müller glia to evaluate migration within controlled microenvironments,' Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci.. 2020; 61(7):695

Mut, S.; Pena, J.S.; Vazquez, M.,'An Ex Vivo Eye Facsimile System (EVES) to evaluate transplantation strategies for cell replacement therapy,' Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci.. 2020; 61(7):795

Pena, J.S.; Vazquez, M., 'VEGF upregulates EGFR expression to stimulate chemotactic behaviors in Müller glia', Brain Sci 2020, 10(6), 330

Zhang S., Markey M., Pena D.C., Venkatesh V., Vazquez, M., ‘A micro-optic stalk to evaluate the collective migration of retinal neuroblasts,’ Micromachines (Basel). 2020 Mar 31;11(4)

Singh, T.; Robles, DR.; Vazquez, M., 'Neuronal substrates alter the migratory responses of non-myelinating Schwann cells to controlled BDNF gradients,' Journal of Tissue Eng Regen Med.  2020 Apr;14(4):609-621.

McCutcheon S.; Majeska, R.; Spray, D.; Schaffler, M.B.; Vazquez, M., 'Apoptotic osteocytes induce RANKL production in bystanders via purinergic signaling and activation of pannexin channels,'  J Bone Miner Res. 2020 May;35(5):966-977.

Pena C.; Zhang, S.; Markey, M..; Venkatesh, T.; Vazquez, M., 'Collective behaviors of Drosophila-derived retinal progenitors in controlled microenvironments,' PLoSOne 2019 Dec 13;14,

Pena C.; Zhang, S.; Majeska, R.; Venkatesh, T.; Vazquez, M., 'Invertebrate retinal progenitors as regenerative models in a microfluidic system,' Cells. 2019 Oct 22;8(10).

Vazquez, M., 'Electro-chemotactic stimuli for cell replacement therapy in neurosensory retina,' Neural Regen Res. 2020 Mar;15(3):450-452.

Peña JS.; Robles D.; Zhang S.; Vazquez M., 'A Milled Microdevice to Advance Glia-Mediated Therapies in the Adult Nervous System,' Micromachines (Basel). 2019 Jul 31;10(8).

Mishra, S.; Pena, J.; Redenti, S.; Vazquez, M., 'A novel electro-chemotactic approach to impact the directional migration of transplantable retinal progenitor cells,' Exp Eye Res 2019, Aug;185:107688

Singh T.; Vazquez, M.; Time-Dependent Addition of Neuronal and Schwann Cells Increase Myotube Viability and Length in An In Vitro Tri-Culture Model of the Neuromuscular Junction,' Regen Eng and Transl Med 2019

Pena J.; Vazquez, M., 'Reducing health disparities in adult vision loss via interfaces with emerging technology,' Nature Eye 2019, Apr;33(4):532-533.

Pena J.; Dulger N.; Redenti, S.; Majeska R.; Vazquez, M., ‘Controlled microenvironments to evaluate chemotactic properties of cultured Muller glia,' Exp Eye Res 2018 May 19;173:129-137.

Vazquez M., ‘Engaging Biomedical Engineering in Health Disparities Challenges,’J Community Med Health Educ 2018, 8: 595.

Thakur A., Mishra S., Pena J., Zhou J., Redenti S., Majeska R., Vazquez, M., ‘Collective adhesion and displacement of retinal progenitor cells upon extracellular matrix substrates of transplantable biomaterials,’ J. Tissue Eng. (2018) Vol. 9: 1–14.

Mishra S.; Vazquez, M., ‘A Gal-MµS device to evaluate cell migratory response to combined galvano-chemotactic fields,' Biosensors (Basel) 2017 Nov 21;7(4).

Vazquez M.; Marte O.; Barba J.; Hubbard K.; 'An approach to integrating health disparities within undergraduate biomedical engineering education,' Ann Biomed. Eng. 2017 Nov;45(11):2703-2715.

McCutcheon S.; Majeska R.; Schaffler M.B.; Vazquez M., 'A multiscale fluidic device for the study of dendrite-mediated cell to cell communication.' Biomed Microdevices, 2017 Aug 8;19(3): 71.

Unachukwu, U.; Warren, A.; Zhou, J.;, Li, Z.;  Mishra, S.; Sauane, M.; Lim, H.; Vazquez, M.*;  Redenti, S.*; ‘Predicted molecular signaling guiding photoreceptor precursor cell migration following transplantation into damaged retina,’ Nature Scientific Reports 2016 Mar 3;6:22392

McCutcheon S.; Unachukwu U.; Thakur A.; Majeska R.; Redenti S.' Vazquez M., ‘In Vitro Formation of Neuroclusters in Microfluidic Devices and Cell Migration as a Function of Stromal-Derived Growth Factor 1 Gradients.’ Cell Adh Migr. 2016 Jan 8:0.

Beck C.;, Singh T.; Farooqi A.; Venkatesh T.; Vazquez M., ‘Controlled microfluidics to examine growth-factor induced migration of neural progenitors in the Drosophila visual system,’ J Neurosci Methods. 2015 Dec 29;262:32-40.

Mishra S.; Thakur A.; Redenti S.; Vazquez M., A model microfluidics-based system for the human and mouse retina,’ Biomed Microdevices. 2015 Dec;17(6):107

Rico-Valera J.; Singh T.; McCutcheon S.; Vazquez M.,’EGF as a therapeutic target for medulloblastoma metastasis,’ Cell Mol Bioeng 2015 July 1; Volume 3, Issue 2, pp323. Cell Mol Bioeng. 2015 Dec;8(4):553-565