Dr Fontaine has been practicing in the field of transfusion medicine and cellular therapy for over ten years. At the frontier of transfusion medicine and whole organ transplantation, the emerging field of cellular therapy has become an alternative therapeutic modality for diseases such as Type 1 diabetes (T1D). Dr Fontaine has a unique experience in the clinical practice of transfusion medicine combined with skills in cell transplantation research. Dr Fontaine's contributions to the field of cellular therapy are a continuation of her post-doctoral training spent at Harvard Medical School, where she was mentored by pioneers in tissue engineering, Drs. Langer and Vacanti, optimizing new techniques of hepatocyte transplantation for end stage liver diseases in neonates. She then moved to the University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) to complete a combined residency in surgery and clinical pathology with a PhD degree in pancreatic islet transplantation and contributed to the development of the islet cell transplant program at UIC. Following a Fellowship in Transfusion Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, she moved to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston where she was integral in starting their islet cell transplant program as well. Most recently, she held the title of Associate Director of the Blood Bank at Stanford University School of Medicine and served as Chair of the National Committee on Standards for Cellular Therapies for the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). She currently serves as the co-Chair on the Novel Cellular Therapies and Product Development Subsection for the AABB.
Her research interest in cellular therapy is focused on improving the success of islet cell transplantation for patients with T1D, significant challenges remain to be addressed including improved preservation of islet cells during isolation, revascularization of islets after implantation, and prevention of inflammation/rejection and autoimmune destruction of the islet graft. To address these issues, her laboratory is testing bio-encapsulation platforms using materials such as silk-based hydrogel containing mesenchymal stromal cells to enhance islet cell survival and function while preventing or minimizing immune mediated cell damage in vivo.
Her contributions to the field of transfusion medicine are associated with her interest in management of the blood supply chain and prevention of transfusion adverse events.
Lab Techniques and Equipment:
Recently, she implemented several innovative new tests and approaches that are important for patient safety and inventory management: