Engineered In Vitro Infective Endocarditis Modeling with a Human iPSC-based Cardiac Microphysiological System

Summer 2017

Nikko Jeffreys : Bioengineering

Mentor: Nathaniel Huebsch and Kevin Healy

Infective Endocarditis (IE) is a disease characterized by inflammation of the inner linings of the heart. Despite advancements made in medical therapies, IE continues to be a highly morbid and deadly disease with a mortality rate of 17.7% among the diagnosed world population. Traditional in vitro assays and in vivo models of IE fail to recapitulate many of the desired engineered controls
that a researcher needs to effectively study the disease. Systems that precisely simulate the activities of the human endocardium in response to IE are in dire need to help biomedical researchers better understand the disease’s mechanisms, and in turn develop rapid diagnostics and better therapies as the disease’s epidemiology changes. Utilizing a Cardiac Microphysiological system (MPS), a 3D microfluidic platform that combines human iPSC derived heart cells and micro-engineered architectures to recapitulate the physiological and mechanical micro-environment of the human heart, I hope to develop a system that better predicts the biology of inflammatory responses in endocarditis patients in vitro while simultaneously allowing for continuous monitoring of physiology and extraction of molecular signals with less complexity. Using the Cardiac MPS, I will engineer a simple model IE, and secondly, use this model to test for pharmaceutical treatments that can help maintain heart function in the setting of this dangerous disease.

This summer research experience has been the most worthwhile experience of my life. Not only did I dive into a topic that I feel heavily invested in, I have made many new friendships, and have enhanced my scientific intuition and research skills. I am thankful to the Rose Hills Foundation for allowing me to study a disease that affects so many, including myself. I look forward to undertaking this fellowship in the future!