Research

Research
Summary

Our research vision is to broadly apply engineering mechanics to address prevalent challenges in cardiovascular biology, physiology, and medicine. We seek to establish robust experimental and computational approaches to characterize the fluid and solid biomechanical environments in biologic soft tissues. Our primary objectives are to 1) advance the clinical diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of cardiovascular disease and 2) elucidate mechanically sensitive biologic mechanisms for targeted drug therapies. In addition, we collaborate widely with scientists, engineers, clinicians, and clinical-scientists on a range of topics that seek to understand the role of mechanics in disease and medical device design.

We invite you to explore our research topic area and publications.

Topics

Coronary Artery Disease Progression

Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, and accounts for >500,000 deaths annually in the US. Plaque rupture is the precipitating event in a majority of these fatal events, however, identifying the rupture risk of an atherosclerotic plaque is a challenge. Our efforts seek to identify mechanical indices that will advance the identification of high-risk coronary lesions and promote the ability to predict plaque rupture. Areas of focus include:

  • in vivo characterization of plaque material properties
  • 3D finite element analysis to predict coronary artery mechanical environment
  • prognostic value of plaque tissue mechanics in CAD progression and plaque vulnerability
Timmins et al., J. R. Soc. Interface, 2017

Timmins et al., J. R. Soc. Interface, 2017.

Costopoulus et al., Eur. Heart J., 2019

Samady et al., Circulation, 2011.

Samady et al., Circulation, 2011.

Stented Artery Biomechanics

Vascular stent implantation is one of the most common medical procedures provided by the US health care system, with ~600,000 coronary stents implanted annually. Despite advances in stent technology and the refinement of treatment guidelines, these devices still fail at rates between 3-20%. We look to establish anatomic and mechanical predictors of acute and chronic stent associated clinical events. Areas of focus include:

  • high-fidelity in vivo visualization of deployed stent and surrounding anatomy
  • patient-specific modeling to characterize post-stent mechanical environment
  • pre-interventional and post-procedural optimization strategies

Elliott et al., IEEE Trans. Med. Imag., 2019

Timmins et al., Lab. Invest., 2011

Timmins et al., Lab. Invest., 2011

Vascular Extracellular Matrix Organization

Extracellular matrix (ECM) remodeling plays a central role in vascular health and disease. In the setting of atherosclerosis, ECM remodeling is key in lesion development, disease progression, and potential plaque rupture. We seek to understand the structural-function relationship of ECM components and define spatial and temporal changes in the ECM induced by the surrounding mechanical environment. Areas of focus include:

  • quantification of ECM organization under loading
  • remodeling of the ECM in early atherosclerosis
  • ECM protein damage in the setting of atherosclerosis development
Smith et al., Ann. Biomed. Eng., 2021

Smith et al., Ann. Biomed. Eng., 2021

Timmins et al., AJP Heart and Circ. Physiol., 2011

Timmins et al., AJP Heart and Circ. Physiol., 2011

Evaluation of In Vivo Hemodynamics with Cardiovascular MRI

As data have convincingly demonstrated an association between complex blood flow and the development of cardiovascular disease, efforts have been directed at establishing clinical techniques to directly interrogate the in vivo hemodynamic environment. Our research efforts focus on applying MRI to comprehensively evaluate the 3D blood flow environment towards advancing the diagnostic and prognostic strategies for atherosclerotic diseases. Areas of focus include:

  • optimization of 4D flow MR image techniques
  • establishing frameworks to quantify wall shear stress directly from MR image data
  • application of MR-derived hemodynamic metrics to define early indicators for vascular disease risk
Hurd et al., (under review)

Hurd et al., (under review)