RESEARCH

Cardiovascular disorders are the leading cause of death in both men and women. However, the molecular and cellular mechanisms guiding cardiovascular disease progression in women remain poorly characterized. We seek to use precision biomaterials as tools to determine sex-specific mechanisms of cardiovascular disease progression at multiple length scales. We are also interested in characterizing sex-specific biology associated with cancer metastasis, stem cell biology, and inflammation.

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BIOMATERIALS TO STUDY SEX-SPECIFIC CELLULAR RESPONSES TO ENGINEERED MICROENVIRONMENTS

Clinical data from aortic valve stenosis patients suggest men develop calcified, bone-like valve tissue, whereas women develop fibrotic, scar-like valvular tissue. We seek to understand how valvular cells integrate mechanical and biochemical signals from sex-specific tissue microenvironments to direct sexual dimorphisms in heart valve disease

PATIENT-SPECIFIC MODELS OF AORTIC VALVE DISEASE

Small molecule inhibitors of aortic valve disease remain elusive. We have engineered in vitro models of valve disease using human serum from patients with valve disease and hydrogels to culture valvular cells. Our models may allow for personalized drug discovery for patients with valve disease.

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SEX-SPECIFIC IMMUNOMODULATION FOR CARDIOVASCULAR TISSUE REGENERATION

Our lab seeks to engineer sex-specific biomaterial implants (image) to improve cardiac tissue remodeling after a heart attack. Given that men and women have differential immune responses after injury, we seek to modulate the inflammation response after a heart attack in a sex-specific manner to help improve cardiac remodeling.

SPATIAL TRANSCRIPTOMICS TO CHARACTERIZE SEX DIFFERENCES IN BIOLOGY

Spatial transcriptomics is a powerful tool that enables the mapping of transcriptional activity in cells to a specific region in the tissue. We seek to use spatial transcriptomics techniques to characterize sex-specific cellular activity in native and engineered tissues.

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