About

Max_headshot_MP_copy_sm

Summary
Hello, my name is Max. I am an engineer-scientist interested in biology and medicine. I currently work at Duke University with Lawrence David on the development of new tools for studying the human microbiome – the collection of microbes that live on and inside us. These microbes play an increasingly appreciated role in shaping human health and disease, yet these communities are so diverse that new technologies are required to understand their function. We developed a method for understanding the function of individual microbes in high throughput by encapsulating them in very small water droplets. We are using this method to understand how gut microbes respond to fiber in our our diet, in order to ultimately shape the impact of gut microbes on human health with diet.

Previously during my doctoral work at the University of Connecticut, I developed ways of using progenitor cells and biomaterials to regenerate bone in response to injury. As part of this process, I developed biomaterials and applied new imaging methods for examining cells and cell-biomaterial interactions in vivo. For the first time, we captured the cascade of cell migration and differentiation that leads to new bone formation in real time.

During my Master’s thesis I developed microfluidic systems (think tiny pipes) for growing stem cells. These devices enable exquisite control of the cell microenvironment, which can be used to understand how stem cells develop into specific tissues, and can be arranged in a high throughput format using very small volumes of fluids (microliters of culture medium per chamber).

I also enjoy kiteboarding, surfing, and bicycle touring. In 2009 I completed a coast to coast tour of the U.S. by bicycle, retracing the Bikecentennial originally done in 1976.