The Cardiac Mechanics Research Group uses experimental and computational models to investigate the relationships between the structure of cardiac muscle and the electrical and mechanical function of the heart during ventricular remodeling, repair and arrhythmia. The PIs are Drs. Andrew McCulloch and Jeff Omens.

In vivo, genetically engineered mouse models are used for studies of the roles of cytoskeletal, sarcomeric, intercalated disk, membrane associated and regulatory molecules in mechanotransduction and mechanoelectric feedback, ventricular hypertrophy and cardiomyopathy, post-myocardial infarction remodeling and regeneration, and arrhythmia mechanisms. These studies are conducted in collaboration with Cardiology faculty including Drs. Kirk Knowlton, Robert Ross, Ju Chen, and Kirk Peterson, and include the use of imaging modalities such as MRI and optical mapping.

Tissue engineering of the cell microenvironment using bionanoprinting, microlithography and microfluidics are used to investigate the role of cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions in cardiac mechanical signaling, mechanoelectric feedback and the pathogenesis of heart failure. At present we are interested in methods to promote stem cell differentiation and integration for cardiac regenerative medicine. Collaborators in this research include Drs. Robert Ross, Sylvia Evans, Karen Christman and Mark Mercola.

The systems biology of cardiac hypoxia responses are being studied in Drosophila and mice, and the networks that confer hypoxia tolerance and susceptibility are under investigation. Collaborators include Drs. Gabriel Haddad at UCSD and Rolf Bodmer and Karen Occor at The Sanford-Burnham Institute.

Multi-scale computational modeling together with in-vitro experimental studies are used to investigate excitation-contraction coupling and contractile mechanisms and their regulation and the role of mechanoelectric feedback in action potential propagation. Collaborators include Drs. Michael Holst, J. Andrew McCammon, Mark Ellisman, Maryann Martone, Masa Hoshijima, Wolfgang Dillmann, Ju Chen and Philip Papadopoulous.

Experimental and computational studies of ventricular electromechanical interactions in the normal and failing heart are being used to investigate the relationships between alectrical activation sequence, regional structural and functional heterogeneities and regional 3D myocardial mechanics in vivo.

Patient-specific modeling based on non-invasive medical imaging and in-vivo clinical measurements is being used to explore atrial fibrillation and cardiac resynchronization therapy for heart failure, in collaboration with Dr. Sanjiv Narayan at Stanford and David Krummen at the San Diego VA Medical Center.

At present, the main research projects in the laboratory are:

Cardiac Biomechanics and Biophysics

  • Ventricular remodeling and heart failure
  • Ventricular electromechanics and pacing in heart failure
  • Cardiac mechanoelectric feedback mechanisms
  • Cardiac MRI
  • Cardiac myocyte mechanics and excitation-contraction coupling

Cardiac Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

  • Cardiac stem cells and regeneration
  • Myocyte mechanotransduction and cardiomyopathy

Multi-Scale Modeling of the Heart

  • Multi-scale computational modeling of cardiac excitation-contraction coupling
  • Patient specific models for atrial fibrillation and heart failure

Cardiac Systems Biology

  • Genome-scale analysis of cardiac hypoxia in Drosophila

  • Systems biology of combination drug therapies

Undergraduate Research Projects

If you are interested in undergraduate research, read more here.

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