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D. Kacy Cullen, Ph.D.

Research Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
Member, Penn Center for Brain Injury & Repair, University of Pennsylvania
Principal Investigator, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA
Member, Institute of Regenerative Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Member, Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders, School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Member, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Philadelphia VA Medical Center
Member, Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Pennsylvania
Director, Center for Neurotrauma, Neurodegeneration & Restoration, Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA
Director, Porcine Neurointensive Care and Assessment Facility (NCAF), Perelman School of Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery, University of Pennsylvania
Department: Neurosurgery

Contact information
Department of Neurosurgery
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
105 Hayden Hall / 3320 Smith Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-746-8176
Fax: 215-573-3808
Graduate Group Affiliations
B.S. (Mechanical Engineering)
Georgia Institute of Technology, 2000.
M.S. (Mechanical Engineering)
Georgia Institute of Technology, 2002.
Ph.D. (Biomedical Engineering)
Georgia Institute of Technology, 2005.
Post-Graduate Training
Post-Doctoral Researcher in Neural Engineering, Laboratory for Neuroengineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2005-2006.
Post-Doctoral Fellow (NRSA) in Neurotrauma and Neural Engineering, Center for Brain Injury and Repair, Department of Neurosurgery, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania , 2007-2008.
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Description of Research Expertise

Dr. Cullen is a Research Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Cullen’s research program operates at the intersection of Neural Engineering, Neurotrauma and Regenerative Medicine ( In the realm of Neurotrauma, the objective is to apply engineering principles to increase our understanding of the causative mechanisms and pathophysiological responses following traumatic injury to the nervous system. Specific attention is given to neural injury biomechanics and mechanisms of acute biophysical cellular/tissue damage. In the arena of Neural Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, the objective is to develop neurotechnology to mitigate trauma-induced deficits or augment the body’s capacity for regeneration. Here focus is given to neural tissue engineering strategies and the development of biohybrid neurobiological-electrical interface technology.

Dr. Cullen is currently an active member of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the National Neurotrauma Society, and the Society for Neuroscience. Dr. Cullen also serves on the editorial board of Critical Reviews in Biomedical Engineering.

Cullen Lab Research Thrusts:

Regenerative Medicine & Neural Tissue Engineering – living scaffolds for neuroregeneration; micro-tissue engineering to restore brain circuitry; biological neuromodulation; “biohybrid” neuroprosthetic interfaces; cell function in 3-D microenvironments; in vitro neural interface microsystems.

Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) & Neurodegeneration – biomechanics; cell/tissue injury tolerance criteria; blast injury; traumatic proteinopathies; mechanisms of neurophysiological dysfunction; wireless neuromonitoring technology;

Selected Publications

Struzyna, L. A., Browne, K. D., Brodnik, Z. D., Burrell, J. C., Harris, J. P., Chen, H. I., Wolf, J. A., Panzer, K. V., Lim, J., Duda, J. E., España, R. A., Cullen, D. K.: Tissue engineered nigrostriatal pathway for treatment of Parkinson’s disease. J Tissue Engin & Regen Med 12(7): 1702-16, Jul 2018.

Cullen, D. K., Struzyna, L. A., Jgamadze, D., Gordián-Vélez, W. J., Lim, J., Wofford, K. L., Browne, K. D., Chen, H. I.: Three-dimensional human axon tracts derived from cerebral organoids. bioRxiv 253369, 2018 Notes: Manuscript in review at Cell Reports and pre-published via Cell Press Sneak Peak.

O’Donnell, J. C., Katiyar, K. S., Panzer, K. V., Cullen, D. K.: A tissue-engineered rostral migratory stream for directed neuronal replacement. Neural Regen Res 13(8): 1327-1331, 2018.

O’Donnell, J. C., Browne, K. D., Killbaugh, T. J., Chen, H. I., Whyte, J., Cullen, D. K.: Challenges and demand for modeling disorders of consciousness following traumatic brain injury. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 98: 336-346, Mar 2019.

Wofford, K. L., Cullen, D. K., Spiller, K. L.: Modulation of macrophage phenotype via phagocytosis of drug-loaded microparticles Journal of Biomedical Materials Research: Part A Page: doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.36617, Jan 2019 Notes: [Epub Ahead of Print]

Serruya, M. D., Harris, J. P., Adewole, D. O., Struzyna, L. A., Burrell, J. C., Nemes, A., Petrov, D., Kraft, R. H., Chen, H. I., Wolf, J. A., Cullen, D. K.: Engineered axonal tracts as “living electrodes” for synaptic-based modulation of neural circuitry. Advanced Functional Materials 28(12): 1701183, Sep 2017.

Wofford, K. L., Harris, J. P., Browne, K. D., Brown, D. P., Grovola, M. R., Mietus, C. J., Wolf, J. A., Duda, J. E., Putt, M. E., Spiller, K. L., Cullen, D. K. : Rapid neuroinflammatory response localized to injured neurons after diffuse traumatic brain injury in swine. Experimental Neurology 290: 85-94, Apr 2017.

Struzyna, L. A., Adewole, D. O. (co-first author), Gordián-Vélez, W. J., Grovola, M. R., Burrell, J. C., Katiyar, K. S., Petrov, D., Harris, J. P., Cullen, D. K.: Anatomically-inspired three-dimensional micro-tissue engineered neural networks for nervous system reconstruction, modulation, and modeling. J Vis Exp(123), May 2017 Notes: DOI: 10.3791.55609.

Katiyar, K. S., Winter, C. C., Struzyna, L. A., Harris, J. P., Cullen, D. K. : Mechanical elongation of astrocyte processes to create living scaffolds for nervous system regeneration. J Tissue Engin & Regen Med 11(10): 2731-2751, Oct 2017.

Winter, C. C., Katiyar, K. S. (co-first author), Hernandez, N. S., Song, Y. J., Struzyna, L. A., Harris, J. P., Cullen, D. K.: Transplantable living scaffolds comprised of micro-tissue engineered aligned astrocyte networks to facilitate central nervous system regeneration. Acta Biomaterialia 38: 44-58, Jul 2016.

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Last updated: 05/09/2019
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