Ferrari, the 3rd Bioengineering student this year receives CCTSI Predoctoral Fellowship

Margaret Ferrari is a first-year PhD candidate in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus, her focus is on Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS).  HLHS is a complex congenital heart defect resulting in an underdeveloped left side of the heart. It alone accounts for up to 1,500 severe defects per year requiring surgery. The current standard of care involves three invasive open- heart surgeries in the first three years of life. The third operation, the Fontan procedure, includes connection of the vena cava to the pulmonary artery using a bio-inert graft to reduce work required by the right ventricle. While this operation greatly extends the lives of HLHS patients, the Fontan circuit eventually fails, and the only solution is a scarcely available donor heart. This failed circuit is explained by the “Fontan paradox” where central venous pressures build up over time, causing increased systemic resistance. The abnormal hemodynamics are associated with severe complications including protein-losing enteropathy, plastic bronchitis, and hepatic fibrosis and carcinoma. This project will address the Fontan paradox by developing a tissue engineered graft with highly contractile, patient specific cells for use in the Fontan procedure. Margaret (Meg) will be working under Jeffrey Jacot, PhD in the Jacot Lab for Pediatric Regenerative Medicine in the Bioengineering Department at Anschutz Medical Campus. Additionally, she will be spending time in the clinic with Mike Di Maria, MD, a co-director of the Single Ventricle Care Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. This mentorship will provide a platform for impactful translational research and give hope to patients and families suffering from HLHS.

 

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