We engineer blood vessels to study cardiovascular disease and develop vascularized scaffolds for tissue regeneration. We use these vessels to learn more about the origin and progression of disease so that new treatment strategies can be developed.
Our list of publications can be found here:
Our laboratory has developed a model that mimics specific aspects of blood vessels in the brain. Specifically, the brain-derived cells that make up these vessels limit the amount of small molecules that can filter across the vessel wall, which is recognized in the body as the blood-brain barrier.
We use this model, which can be exposed to varying levels of fluid flow rate and pressures, to study how changes in blood flow affect the integrity of the blood-brain barrier. The image to the left shows the cells lining the walls of the vessel, known as endothelial cells, surrounded by cells called astrocytes that are important regulators of cellular function in the brain.
Blood flow through branch points in the vasculature (called bifurcations) exhibits unique characteristics. Our research seeks to understand how the endothelial cells in the brain sense and respond to these "disturbed" fluid flows, Our goal is to determine whether the correlation between aneurysms and the location of bifurcations can be explained by the force exerted by disturbed flow on the endothelial cells. We have developed a model of a vascular bifurcation that serves as a test platform to pursue this research. We use techniques that include microparticle image velocimetry (microPIV) to characterize the fluid flow in our device and verify that it is analogous to bifurcation flow in the body. Currently, our lab is using RNA-sequencing to understand the endothelial response to these fluid regimes.
In addition to constructing models that investigate the effect of fluid flow on blood vessel integrity and function, our lab also uses engineered vasculature in scaffolds intended to regenerate damaged tissue in the central nervous system (CNS). We are investigating the efficacy of vascularized scaffolds to reduce scarring and to promote and guide axon growth following injury to the CNS. The image to the left shows axons from the host tissue migrating along transplanted blood vessels.
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