Mission and Approach

Areas of study:

Vascular Mechanics


Ventricular Function

Other interests:

BME Education


• Mission and Approach

The mission of the Vascular Tissue Biomechanics (VTB) lab is to improve cardiovascular health through the integration of mechanical engineering, vascular biology and imaging tools, to advance knowledge in these fields, and to educate the next generation of leaders in cardiovascular engineering and science.

Ventricular failure is the most common cause of death in people with cardiovascular disease. The VTB lab strives to better understand and prevent ventricular failure by focusing on three aspects of physiology and pathophysiology: ventricular function, blood flow dynamics, and changes in the large and small arteries alter blood flow dynamics and thus ventricular function.

More information is available in each of these areas below.

• Areas of Study

▫ Vascular Mechanics

Changes in the structure and function of large and small arteries occur with disease onset and can also promote disease progression. In our studies on remodeling of the large pulmonary arteries, we are currently focusing on the role of extracellular matrix, esp. collagen, in arterial changes induced by age and hypoxia- and drug-induced pulmonary hypertension. These mechanical properties are then correlated with the biological changes found by histology and biochemical assays.

In our studies on remodeling of the small pulmonary arteries, we are interested in the role of smooth muscle cells as well as collagen. We use micro computed tomography techniques, digital subtraction angiography, and magnetic resonance angiography to measure size and stiffness changes that occur with hypoxia-, emboli- and drug-induced pulmonary hypertension.

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▫ Hemodynamics

The impact of changes in large and small pulmonary arterial structure and function is evident hemodynamically. We use isolated lung experiments to study the effects of hypoxia- and drug-induced pulmonary hypertension on pulmonary hemodynamics in small animals. We also use multi-modality imaging studies to assess the effects of hypoxia-, emboli- and drug-induced pulmonary hypertension in large and small animals in vivo.

In our clinical studies, we also use multiple imaging modalities (magnetic resonance and echocardiography) to analyze pressure and flow changes in patients with pulmonary hypertension.

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▫ Ventricular Function

Changes in large and small artery structure and function alter blood flow, and abnormal blood flow can cause ventricular dysfunction. In addition, ventricular dysfunction can occur through intrinsic ventricular disease. To better understand and prevent ventricular failure secondary to cardiovascular disease, the VTB lab uses catheterization, imaging (magnetic resonance and echocardiography), and isolated myocardial testing techniques to quantify the impact of age and hypoxia-, emboli- and drug-induced pulmonary hypertension on ventricular function in large and small animals as well as in clinical studies.

We are also developing novel techniques to assess the efficiency of hemodynamic coupling between the ventricle and the vasculature.

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• Other Interests

▫ Biomedical Engineering Education

VTB lab personnel are also performing research in engineering education. Much of this work is performed in collaboration with the Epistemic Games Group. Independently, we are investigating the impact and effectiveness of various approaches to physiology instruction on student learning in subsequent biomedical engineering courses.

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