MAE faculty receive $600K NSF grant to study the cause and effect between complex blood flow and cell response

March 18, 2019

Drs. Michael Plesniak (MAE), Lijie “Grace” Zhang (MAE), and Kartik Bulusu (MAE) have received a three-year, $599,000 National Science Foundation grant for the project “Impact of Curvature-Induced Secondary Flows on Mechanotransduction and Cell Biochemical Signaling in 3D Bioprinted Artery Models with Physiological Inflow.”

Cardiac diseases associated with plaque formation in the arteries, such as atherosclerosis, are triggered by the biochemical signals expressed by the arterial lining cells in direct contact with the blood, the endothelial cells.  The objective of this project is to study how these cells respond to complex flows, such as those that occur in various parts of the vasculature (e.g., regions of curvature, constrictions, branching) and induce forces that are transmitted to the endothelial cells. These cells transmit biochemical signals to adjacent smooth muscle cell layers that control the properties of the arteries (such as their stiffness and cross-sectional area through which the blood flows).

By integrating two approaches from different disciplines the team will be able to examine the cause and effect between the complex blood flow and the resulting cell response. Dr. Plesniak is the principal investigator on the grant.