Walters Family Professor
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Pharmacology
Professor of Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics
Associate Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Mechanobiology The first focus of the lab is in the area of mechanobiology - the study of how mechanical forces or deformations alter cellular signaling, phenotype, and biosynthetic function. More specifically, we are interested in cardiovascular mechanobiology and in particular, heart valves. We are interested in the mechano-dependent activation of fibroblasts to myofibroblasts. This work involves dynamic cell culture systems and small animal models of heart valve disease. The primary goal of this work is to elucidate the early effectors that initiate fibrotic disease.
GPCR Targeted Drug Strategies The second focus of the lab grew out of the first and we have begun exploring potential therapeutic strategies against heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension via serotonergic receptors. We are utilizing the lessons learned from the weight loss drug, Phen-Fen, which caused heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension in healthy patients within 6 months. In essence, we are attempting to target the same cell surface receptors with drugs that do the reverse of what Phen-Fen did. We believe that this strategy can potentially treat age-related heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension.
Percutaneous Interventions The third focus of the lab is the general area of percutaneous interventions for heart valve disease. In this area, we are currently developing a novel catheter for percutaneous treatment of myxomatous mitral valve disease by altering the intrinsic biomechanical compliance of the mitral valve leaflets.
Tissue Engineering The fourth focus of the lab is the general area of mechanically tunable biomaterials for cardiovascular tissue engineering. We are developing tunable biomaterials that can be dynamically modified via multiple mechanisms to facilitate endothelial-to-mesenchymal transformation. This critical first step is a major roadblock in developing engineered tissues that mimic native developmental biology processes.