Department Seminar

Regenerative Insights and Strategies to Treat Critical Congenital Heart Valve Disease: A Biomechanics Perspective

Speaker Details:

Sharan Ramaswamy
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Florida International University

Lecture Details:

May 18, 2017
12:30 p.m. - 1:20 p.m.
Foege N130A, Wallace H. Coulter Seminar Room


Congenital heart defects occur in 8 out of 1000 live births in the US (, with several cases presenting with anomalous heart valves. Available valve therapies have major limitations. For example, mechanical valves are commonly used, but require long-term anti-coagulant therapy, which is dangerous for young children.  Homografts or bio-prosthetic valves are occasionally used but are prone to calcification, leading to regurgitation. In the pediatric population, repetitive valve replacement surgeries are required, because available prosthetic valves do not accommodate somatic growth.  Thus, current prospects in treating valve defects in children are faced with several limitations and concerns, with an overall grim prognosis for survival.  In theory, the ability to grow a valve in vitro using stem cell progenitors and appropriate scaffolding materials, i.e., a tissue engineered heart valve for subsequent implantation could potentially overcome all the shortcomings of existing treatment strategies.  Despite this appeal however, much remains to be understood in terms of the mechanical environments needed to condition growing valves, but which nonetheless have been shown to be essential for the creation of functional valve tissues. In addition, the biological responses to mechanical stimuli are likely to be progenitor cell-specific.  In this talk, efforts to utilize bone marrow derived stem cells over the past decade for valve tissue engineering purposes will be discussed.  Next, we will share our more recent work focusing on oscillatory fluid-induced shear stress-based mechanical stimuli as well as a FDA-approved bio-scaffold for congenital valve replacement.  Finally important milestones for successful development of engineered valve tissue therapies, including a need to return to the bench for basic cell mechano-biological studies will be addressed.

Speaker Bio:

Sharan Ramaswamy completed his PhD in 2003 at the University of Iowa in Biomedical Engineering. In early 2007, Dr. Ramaswamy started work as a Research Faculty in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, in the area of heart valve tissue engineering.  In December 2009, joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at FIU as an Assistant Professor. Dr. Ramaswamy’s research interests lie primarily in the area of cell and engineered tissue mechanics with application in cardiovascular regenerative medicine. His laboratory, the “Tissue Engineered Mechanics, Imaging and Materials laboratory (TEMIM LAB)”, conducts both experimental and computational investigations in this area.  Currently his major research goals are to integrate the various areas of his training into the differential mechano-regulation of cells towards the cardiovascular phenotype as well as the synthesis of viable engineered cardiovascular tissues, particularly, heart valves.