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CTSI Awards for Notre Dame Engineering Faculty

Nina Welding • DATE: July 28, 2015

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Two Notre Dame faculty from the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering have been awarded Project Development Team (PDT) grants on behalf of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

Assistant Professor Pinar Zorlutuna received a grant for a research project entitled “An Engineered Myocardium for Studying the Role of HIF1 in Cardioprotection.”

Myocardial infarction (MI) – otherwise known as a heart attack – is one of the most prevalent cardiovascular diseases, affecting millions of people and costing billions of dollars each year. According to Zorlutuna, “many factors leading to MI are under intense study, but cardiomyocyte-microvascular endothelial cell (EC) communication that could result in cardioprotection is less understood.” The goal of the research project is to develop an engineered human cardiac tissue that would allow an efficient and consistent method of studying the communication between ECs and cardiomyocytes during a MI event.

Assistant Professor Joel Boerckel and Melissa Kacena, associate professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine, received a grant for a collaborative research project on the “Delivery of Recombinant Human Thrombopoietin for Large Bone Defect Regeneration.”

Boerckel said the goal of the project is to “engineer a new approach for regenerating large bone defects caused by traumatic injury or disease.” One of the major challenges in healing these large defects is the failure of new blood vessels to grow in the regenerated tissue. This study will “test a new method to stimulate bone formation by activating an unusual suspect: the megakaryocyte,” Boerckel said. He continued, “recent work by my collaborator and her colleagues has shown that these large bone marrow cells can communicate with other cell types to induce bone and, possibly, blood vessel formation.” The proposed research project will test whether thrombopoietin, which is a megakaryocyte growth factor, can activate these cells to stimulate new bone growth.

The Indiana CTSI is a statewide collaboration between Indiana University, Purdue University, and the University of Notre Dame, as well as public and private partnerships, whose mission is to strengthen and support the entire spectrum of translational research from scientific discovery to improved patient care. The Indiana CTSI provides funding opportunities for researchers and currently proposals for PDT funding are being accepted on a rolling basis.

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