Mary Gates Endowment For Students

Serena Nguyen

Mary Gates Research Scholar, Autumn 2022

Research Project: Vascularized Suspended Heart Tissue Engineering

Project Description: After someone suffers from a heart attack, heart tissue can become scarred. Scarred heart tissue cannot regenerate, leading to many dangerous outcomes that can include dysrhythmia, chronic heart failure, and even sudden cardiac death. But what if we could place a “band-aid” on that scarred tissue to functionally replace it? Using open-microfluidic patterning for tissue engineering, I am creating a heart tissue “band-aid” to reinforce and functionally replace unviable heart tissue. My multi-part project first focuses on the creation of vasculature within a suspended tissue construct to later be combined with engineered cardiac tissue to produce sustainable and viable vascularized heart tissue.

What have you learned throughout your research project?

Beyond learning many laboratory techniques and expanding my understanding of open microfluidics and tissue engineering, I have learned everything takes longer than expected and you will fail more times than you succeed. What matters the most is remaining persistent and things will eventually fall into place!

What piece of advice do you have for future applicants? 

Never give up and be creative! Research is all about finding new approaches and perspectives; try even the things that seem silly because it could be what you’ve been looking for all along!