Professor: Jonathan Butcher
Project Description: Congenital heart defects are serious clinical problems that can be immediately life threatening at birth. While much is known about the genes involved, much less is known about the cellular decisions that are critical for correctly sculpting tissues in response to microenvironmental signals. Our lab studies the role of mechanical forces in regulating embryonic heart valve progenitor differentiation and remodeling of tissue. During this project, the student will gain valuable experience integrating concepts of mechanical engineering, material science, and developmental biology. The student will work directly the embryonic chick as a model system. The student will assist in the development and analysis of a novel bioreactor that can stimulate embryonic valve primordial tissues with defined flow profiles. We will evaluate microfabrication and adhesive strategies to secure living embryonic tissues within bioreactor surfaces and assessing how different attachment methods will affect the flow field in vitro. We will then investigate how specific flow profiles affect cell viability and downstream tissue remodeling.