RESEARCH

Every organ in the body is dependent on blood flow to provide the necessary oxygen and nutrients in order to stay alive. The circulatory system is responsible for delivering blood to and from all of the tissues, and the microcirculation is the set of the smallest blood vessels in the body. (Microvessels are less than 100 micrometers in diameter, and they can only be visualized using a microscope!) Our research is interested in understanding how microvessels (and other tissues throughout the body grow) and remodel during normal physiological development and in the setting of different diseases, such as heart disease, peripheral vascular disease, diabetic retinopathy, cancer, and chronic wounds. We are are also interested in applying our knowledge of the microcirculation in order to grow new tissues (tissue engineering) and regenerate damaged tissues in the body (tissue regeneration). In fact, without a blood supply (ie. without microvessels) tissues beyond the small size of 1 cubic millimeter cannot survive in the body. Therefore, our research aims to address a critical bottleneck for all of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine aspirations: growing new functional and sustainable microvessels that can deliver blood to the tissues that we are trying to heal and/or replace.

RESEARCH GOALS

Understand how tissues grow and adapt in response to physiological and pathological environmental stimuli.

Use information gathered to develop therapeutic strategies for invoking and promoting tissue regeneration and repair.

All of our projects combine multi-cell computational modeling with experimental analyses.

DESIGN GOALS

In addition to designing new cell-based and drug-based therapies for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, we are also interested in medical device design. In collaborations with our clinical partners we have developed new surgical instruments, diagnostic tools, and medical teaching kits for a range of applications in otolaryngology, ophthalmology, and pediatrics.

Dr. Shayn Peirce-Cottler

Department of Biomedical Engineering

University of Virginia

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