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Lisa A. Stehno-Bittel, PT, Ph.D.

Clinical Professor
KU Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science

Professional Background

Lisa Stehno-Bittel, PT, Ph.D., serves as director of a medical imaging course for physical therapy and audiology students as well as for an administration course for physical therapists. Additionally, she teaches a grant-writing course for doctoral and post-doctoral students from across the KU Medical Center campus.

In 2012 Stehno-Bittel licensed her patents from KU and formed a biotech company, Likarda, which was named one of the 50 most promising start-ups in the world during Global Entrepreneur week. Since then Likarda has grown to provide drug discovery and product testing services – as well as produce cell-based therapies – for companion animals. These advances have allowed the company to reach profitability just 18 months after launching. In 2015 she was named by Ingram’s Magazine as One of the Top 50 Kansans You Should Know.

Academic Background

Stehno-Bittel began her academic career at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., where she earned her bachelor's degree in physical therapy. She then advanced her education at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Mo., where she obtained a doctorate in physiology.

After her post-doctoral work in pharmacology at the Mayo School of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., Stehno-Bittel returned to the KU Medical Center to join the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science as a faculty member. She served as department chair from 2004 to 2015. Stehno-Bittel reduced her time at KU so she could devote more time to her company.

Research Focus

Stehno-Bittel has dedicated her research to curing diabetes through islet transplants. During that process, her team discovered that smaller islets survived the transplant procedure better, and their research helped to improve transplant outcomes. That finding led to new innovative ways to make large islets smaller so that they could function better after transplant, resulting in the Micromold, a patented mold that forms hundreds of thousands of cellular clusters in a small area.

The process to create the improved islets, and to protect them from the recipient’s immune system, are at the basis of her company’s unique position in the marketplace. Stehno-Bittel’s research is conducted at her company, Likarda.

Curriculum Vitae PDF document

Selected Current and Past Grants

Lisa Stehno-Bittel (Co-I)
Impact of Exercise on Parkinson's Disease Therapy
The purpose of the grant is to determine the impact of endurance aerobic exercise on the drug efficacy on a chronic mouse model of Parkinsons Disease. Neurological changes in response to exercise are being monitored as well as behavioral and functional improvements. We are completing EMG studies characterizing the tone in the PD model, as well as microscopy analysis of changes in the brain.

Lisa Stehno-Bittel (Mentor)
Diabetes SMC changes reversed by islet transplants
This grant explores the ability of islet transplants to reverse the smooth muscle cell pathology associated with type 1 diabetes. Specifically, we are examining the change in calcium regulatory protein and in proteins responsible for proliferation of smooth muscle cells.

Lisa Stehno-Bittel (Co-I)
Mechanism and Therapy of SHIV Encephalitis in Macaques
This grant will explore the role of PDGF in virus replication in macaque macrophage cultures and will also assess the role of IP-10 in neuronal dysfunction/death associated with SHIV-encephalitis. Delivery of liposomes carrying antisense DNA plasmids will be first optimized in macaque macrophage cell cultures followed by delivery and biodistribution in small animals such as rats. These studies will then form the basis for antisense delivery in infected macaques to interdict the disease process.

Lisa Stehno-Bittel (PI)
Subcutaneous Islet Transplants for Type 1 Diabetes
This project is based on previous observations that smaller islets are superior to large ones for transplantation into the liver and kidney capsule. The goals of the project are to utilize small islets (< 125 mm) to attempt subcutaneous transplants in rats with type 1 diabetes.
Rosebud Diabetes Research Foundation

Lisa Stehno-Bittel (Co-I)
Islet Transplantation for Type 1 Diabetes
This collaborative initiative investigates the different mechanisms for islet isolation in producing successful islet transplants and in looking for the long-term effects of the islet transplants. Our role in this project is to identify genetic and functional markers in islet cells that correlate with successful transplants.
Hall Foundation

Last modified: Jul 13, 2021

Lisa A. Stehno-Bittel


Lisa A. Stehno-Bittel, PT, Ph.D.
Clinical Professor

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