Colleen Witzenburg, PhD

Position title: Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering


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Many different soft tissues (aorta, ventricular wall, heart valve leaflet, etc.) are fundamental to the load-bearing capacity of the cardiovascular system. These tissues have the ability to grow and adapt to changing hemodynamic conditions. They also have complex fibrous structures, however, leading to nonlinear, anisotropic, and heterogeneous mechanical behavior. Diseases and disorders such as heart failure, aortic disease, myocardial infarction, heart valve disease, and congenital heart defects often involve a reduction in mechanical function. In some cases, the replacement of an entire vessel, valve, or even the heart itself may be necessary. My work focuses on quantifying and predicting tissue structure and function, both in the context of acute events, such as tearing or rupture, as well as progressive functional losses, such as ventricular dilation and aortic aneurysm. Specifically, I am interested in three broad questions: 1) How do cardiovascular tissues remodel and grow in response to disease? 2) How does spatial heterogeneity contribute to tissue function and 3) In what ways can we employ computational models to improve treatment planning and design better therapies? Please check out the Cardiovascular Biomechanics Laboratory Website for more information.