Jenny M. Munson

Jenny M. Munson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, School of Engineering

Research Areas

  • Tissue Engineering
  • Disease modeling
  • Interstitial fluid flow
  • Cancer Research

In the Munson Lab, we study the tumor microenvironment in cancers, including glioblastoma, the deadliest form of brain cancer. Our research focuses on the emerging research area of fluid flow. Cancer’s invasion of the brain follows distinctive routes that correlate with interstitial and bulk flow pathways. In brain cancer, fluid flow increases between cells within the tissue, specifically across the invasive edge of the tumor where cells are prone to both interact with the surrounding brain tissue and to evade localized, transport-limited therapies. We believe fluid flow can alter how a tumor responds to drug therapies. There are multiple regulators and contributors to fluid flow changes in the body including lymphatics, blood vessels, and tissue composition that can be targeted or examined to better define the disease state. Not only is fluid flow important in cancer, but also is a contributor to normal function in tissues and other diseases. To this end, we are translating many of our methods and hypotheses to understand the role of fluid flow in immunity, aging, and women's health.

Our methods combine in vivo imaging methodology with in vitro tissue engineered models to examine the role of interstitial fluid flow and the cellular components of the microenvironment in cancer progression and treatment. We use patient-derived cells to create personalized models of disease and use these systems to test hypotheses related to fluid and tissue transport in tumors and the brain and to identify new drug targets and treatment approaches. In vitro, we combine tissue engineered cell culture systems with microfluidic devices to analyze cellular behaviors tissue using flow cytometry and microscopy. In vivo, we employ a host of imaging methods, including MRI and intravital imaging, and disease models to parameterize our systems and validate our measurements.

Our goal is to find new targets in the tissue microenvironment by examining cancer and disease in the proper context, which includes dynamic fluid flows, multiple cell types, and patient-specific parameterization. By including the proper tissue environment, we believe that we can better identify underlying causes and contributors to disease and thus be better able to target and test new drugs for patients.

For a more complete listing of Jenny Munson's publications, visit PubMed.

Education and Training

  • Georgia Tech: Ph.D. , Bioengineering
  • Tulane University: B.S. , Chemical Engineering and Neuroscience

Previous Positions

  • Virginia Tech
    Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, School of Engineering
    Institute for Critical and Applied Science, Virginia Tech
    Center for Engineered Health, Virginia Tech
  • University of Virginia
    Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine, School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL)
    Postdoctoral Associate
    Whitaker International Postdoctoral Fellowship, Whitaker Foundation

Awards and Honors

  • Dean's Excellence Seminar Speaker, Cornell University, 2019
  • Leader in Research, Department of Biomedical Engineering & Mechanics, 2019
  • Dean's Award Outstanding New Assistant Professor, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2019
  • Young Innovator Award, Journal of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, 2017
  • Rita Schaffer Young Investigator Award, Biomedical Engineering Society, 2016

Selected Publications

Colleen T. Curley, Brian P. Mead, Karina Negron , Namho Kim, William J. Garrison, G. Wilson Miller, Kathryn M. Kingsmore, E. Andrew Thim, Ji Song, Jennifer M. Munson, Alexander L. Klibanov, Jung Soo Suk, Justin Hanes, Richard J. Price. (2020). Augmentation of brain tumor interstitial flow via focused ultrasound promotes brain-penetrating nanoparticle dispersion and transfection. Science Advances .

R. Chase Cornelison, Caroline E. Brennan, Kathryn M. Kingsmore & Jennifer M. Munson. (2018). Convective forces increase CXCR4-dependent glioblastoma cell invasion in GL261 murine model. Scientific Reports .

Kathryn M. Kingsmore, Andrea Vaccar, Daniel Abler, Sophia X. Cui, Frederick H. Epstein, Russell C. Rockne, Scott T. Acton, and Jennifer M. Munson. (2018). MRI analysis to map interstitial flow in the brain tumor microenvironment. APL Bioengineering .

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