Malisa Sarntinoranont

sarntinoranontAssociate Professor,Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
Affiliate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Ph.D., University of California at Berkeley

Soft Tissue Mechanics and Drug Delivery Laboratory | Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering | College of Engineering

Dr. Sarntinoranont received her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.  She completed her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.  Her Ph.D. studies focused on modeling the mechanics of growing solid tumors.  Her post-doctoral training was at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the Division of Bioengineering and Physical Science.  She has been a faculty at the University of Florida since 2003.

For most of my career, I have been interested in understanding the effects of increased and abnormal fluid flows on disease and therapy, especially the effects of fluid flow within extracellular (interstitial/parenchyma) spaces inside tissues.  These flows can have a profound effect on disease, remodeling of tissues, and drug delivery. For my Ph.D. studies, I developed computational models of tumors that looked at effects of abnormally high fluid pressures and flows caused by leaky blood vessels and a lack of proper tissue drainage (lymphatics).  In these cases, high pressures and flows can act as a barrier to drug delivery, especially for large molecules that are trying to reach a cell target. For my post-doc studies, I developed 3D drug delivery models of the spinal cord.  They were the most anatomically realistic transport models of the time, accounting for infusion into the dorsal column, realistic tissue boundaries, enhanced flows along white matter tracks, and binding and degradation of drug molecules within tissues.  The goal of these models was to guide selective ablation of pain sensing neurons while avoiding vital neurons within the spinal cord.

Since joining the University of Florida, my research group has continued to develop state-of-the-art computational models of the spinal cord, brain and tumors to improve drug therapies. Our CNS research has also included studies of brain swelling and traumatic brain injury. The CNS is an extremely complex system and my goal continues to be to develop the most informed models possible. Because of this, our most recent initiative has been to develop experimentally-driven computational models.  Our models use magnetic resonance imaging to generate patient-specific geometries and account for preferential flows within white matter structures.  We have also focused on experimental tracer distribution studies as a way to rigorously measure underlying flow routes in tissues. I strongly believe that models need to be built upon extensive experimental observations otherwise it is easy to reach conclusions that are not useful.  Since much of this type of information is missing for the CNS, this has meant doing our own experiments and collaborating with other neuroscientists, neurosurgeons, and physicists to better understand the transport routes of the most interest to us.


Uses principles of continuum mechanics, fluid mechanics, mass transport theory, and pharmacokinetics to investigate tissue-level drug transport and the mechanical behavior of biological soft tissues.

1.    Hong, Y. *, Sarntinoranont, M., Subhash, G. †, Canchi, S. *, King, M.A., “Localized Tissue Surrogate Deformation due to Controlled Single Bubble Cavitation,” Experimental Mechanics, DOI 10.1007/s11340-015-0024-2, Online April 18, 2015.

2.    Zhang, W., Dai. W. *, Tsai, S.M., Zehnder, S.M., Sarntinoranont, M., Angelini, T.E. †, “Surface Indentation and Fluid Intake Generated by the Polymer Matrix of Bacillus Subtilis Biofilms,” Soft Matter, 11(18): 3612-3617, 2015.

3.    Lonser, R.R., Sarntinoranont, M., Morrison, P.F., Oldfield, E.H. †, “Convection-Enhanced Delivery to the Central Nervous System,” Journal of Neurosurgery, 122(3): 697-706, 2014.

4.    Casanova, F. *, Carney, P.R., Sarntinoranont, M. †, “In-Vivo Evaluation of Needle Force and Friction Stress during Insertion at Varying Insertion Speed into the Brain,” Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 237: 79-89, 2014.

5.    Casanova, F. *, Carney, P.R., Sarntinoranont, M. †, “Effect of Needle Insertion Speed on Tissue Injury, Stress, and Backflow Distribution for Convection-Enhanced Delivery in the Rat Brain,” PLoS ONE, 9(4) e94919, 2014.