Graduating Pulmonary Science and Critical Care MD Fellow: A reflection on two years of science!

By. Kolene E. Bailey, MD

My name is Kolene E. Bailey, and for the last 2 years, I have been an MD research fellow in Dr. Chelsea Magin’s Lab. My love of science and engineering began back in my undergraduate training as a major in biological engineering and minor in biomedical engineering while at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. I then returned to my home state of New Hampshire for medical school training at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth in Hanover, NH. I then went on to complete my internship, residency, and chief year in internal medicine at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT. I finally moved to Colorado to complete my fellowship training in pulmonary and critical care at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora, CO. 

18 months of our 36 month fellowship is spent learning about academic medicine and how to perform research. I remember the early Spring of 2017 when I was desperately looking for a research mentor that would be able to help me align my biomedical engineering background and love of pulmonary medicine. Thankfully, a PhD faculty candidate talk was scheduled on our education day entitled  “Development and translation of engineered biomaterial interfaces for regulation of biological adhesion” by Dr. Chelsea M. Magin. I was so excited for the talk, but in reality, I was blown away by the content of the talk. I ran up to Dr. Magin right afterwards, and hoped that she was going to be able to take me on as a mentee. She was equally as enthusiastic and smiled as she handed me her business card. This began our 2 years of amazing research together. 

My research in fellowship has spanned polymer chemistry, bioengineering approaches for the develop 3D models of chronic lung disease, 3D bioprinting, and 3D-Lung Tissue harvest through the use of precision cut lung slices (PCLS) and culturing techniques in collaboration with Dr. Melanie Koenigshoff.

3D printing our customized hydrogels

During my research time, we used advanced characterization techniques to determine the stiffness of healthy mouse lung tissue and human lung tissue from healthy and patients with COPD. We systematically evaluated poly(ethylene glycol)-based hydrogel platforms for the encapsulation of PCLS. We demonstrated the ability to support ex vivo culture of embedded PCLS over 21 days compared to control PCLS floating in media.

Generation of PCLS from human lung tissue 

Our customized hydrogels maintained PCLS architecture, viability, and cellular phenotype as measured by surfactant protein C and vimentin expression compared to non-encapsulated controls. Collectively, these results demonstrate that hydrogel biomaterials support the extended culture times required to study chronic pulmonary diseases ex vivo using PCLS technology. Together, this work has provided me with excellent research training and has allowed me to generate a substantial body of work that is ongoing. A summary of my research accomplishments during my 2 years with Dr. Magin:

— CCTSI Co-Pilot Grant Recipient 2017 $30,000– T32 July 2017 – June 2018 
INVITED PRESENTATIONS– “Embedding of precision-cut lung slices in engineered hydrogel biomaterials supports extended ex vivo culture” Research in Progress Seminar, University of Colorado Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine. May 2019– “Hybrid 3D lung Tissue Cultures to Improve Ex Vivo Models of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.” Aspen Lung Conference, Aspen, CO June 2018– “Bioengineered Hydrogels to Improve Three-Dimensional (3D) Models of Lung Regeneration in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)” Research in Progress Seminar, University of Colorado Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine. September 2017– Shock – Intern Lecture Series. Noon Conference. Internal Medicine Residency Program. June 2016 and July 2017

PUBLICATIONS– Bailey, KE*, Floren, ML*, D’Ovidio, TJ, Lammers, SR, Stenmark, KR, Magin, CM. Tissue-Informed Engineering Strategies for Modeling Human Pulmonary Diseases American Journal of Physiology– Lung. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2019 Feb 1;316(2):L303-L320. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00353.2018. Epub 2018 Nov 21– McGraw MD, Sherlock LG, Bailey KE, Abman SH. Developmental Origins of Chronic Lung Diseases. Mechanical Stretch, Micro-RNAs, and Hydrogels. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2018 Aug;59(2):267-270.– Bailey, KE, Welsh, C. August 2017 Case of the Month Southwest Journal of Pulmonary and Critical Care
— Nyendak MR, Lewinsohn DM, Shah RD, Wunderink RG, Koch CD, Morris A, McDade KE, Michaud GC, Mahajan AK, Channick CL, Argento AC, Wahidi MM, Beckett WS, George G, Thomson CC. ATS Core Curriculum 2014: part I. Adult pulmonary medicine. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014 Sep;11(7):1136-44.

ABSTRACTS– “Development of Hydrogel Bioinks and 3D Bioprinting Techniques to Support Extended 3D Lung Tissue Culture in vitro” RAPiD: Rapid Abstract Poster Discussion. American Thoracic Society International Meeting, Dallas, TX May 2019– “Bioengineered Hydrogels to Improve Three-Dimensional (3D) Models of Lung Regeneration in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).” RAPiD: Rapid Abstract Poster Discussion. American Thoracic Society International Meeting, San Diego, CA May 2018– “Three-Dimensional Assessment of Aortic Valve Annulus in Severe Aortic Stenosis Pre-TAVR Using a Novel Automated Method: Can We Trust the Model?” American Society of Echocardiography (ASE) Boston 2015 

ATS Poster Presentation in Dallas, TX 2019

I am so thankful for my time spent in the lab of Dr. Chelsea Magin. Her enthusiasm, empathy for others, resilience, tenacity, and passion for mentoring has helped me become a better person and a better physician. While I have decided to return to clinical medicine as a physician with Critical Care, Pulmonary, and Sleep Associates in Denver, CO, I am at ease knowing the future of science is in amazing hands with Dr. Chelsea Magin. If you are reading this and are interested in working in Dr. Magin’s lab, I cannot recommend her lab more highly. It will be the best decision of your life.. it was for me. If you have any questions feel free to send me an email at

My son York was born January 31st, 2018. He is now an incredible little toddler and my husband Grant (picture) and I love him so much. Research has offered me incredible work-life balance and I have enjoyed every minute of it. 
Medical Training has felt like a marathon.. So I thought I would actually train for one! Here I am finishing the Revel Rockies Marathon June 2nd, 2019

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