Mechanobiology is an emerging field of science, which describes how mechanical forces affect the biology of living systems. It has provided a new way to think about the function of cells, tissues and organs, and is now considered a potential tool to elucidate disease mechanisms. Mechanobiology requires a multidisciplinary approach in which the detailed description of the mechanical environment and the thorough analysis of its effects on tissue biology are addressed in tandem. Historically, such studies have put more emphasis on the biological description of mechano-sensitive processes in simplified biological models than on the implementation of realistic mechanical stimuli due to the limited knowledge of the native mechanical environment and the challenge to replicate it on intact tissue in the laboratory. The lack of realistic laboratory models that duplicate the native tissue mechanical environment has hampered our understanding of mechano-sensitive disease processes and the development of early diagnosis and therapeutic modalities.
Therefore, Prof. Sucosky's primary research interests are in the characterization of the native hemodynamics and the elucidation of the mechano-sensitive response in cardiovascular tissue and medical devices, with a particular focus on valvular, aortic and ventricular disorders.
Current studies conducted in the Multi-Scale Cardiovascular Bioengineering Laboratory (MSCBL) include:
- fluid-structure interactions in the aortic valve and their relationship to valvular calcification
- flow abnormalities in bicuspid aortic valve aortas and their impact on aortopathy
- flow in hemodialysis vascular access and its role in intimal hyperplasia pathogenesis
- pediatric patient-specific evaluation of ventricular flow abnormalities and their relationship to discrete subaortic stenosis
While these disorders have been studied for decades, the causality between hemodynamics and pathogenesis has never been rigorously established. Prof. Sucosky's laboratory has invested in the development of new approaches addressing the fluid mechanical and biological aspects of those disorders at the same level of depth, and is one of the few with such expertise.