Kelly Mabry

Graduate Student
Contact Information:

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests:

Calcific aortic valve stenosis is a prevalent disease, but no drugs have been proven to
prevent or reverse this calcification. To identify possible treatments, a better
understanding of the disease mechanism is necessary. Valvular interstitial cells (VICs)
are the most prevalent type of cell in the valve. In healthy heart valves, VICs are mostly
quiescent fibroblasts. These cells can be activated to the myofibroblast phenotype, which
is associated with diseased valves and characterized by stress fiber formation, increased
proliferation and matrix remodeling. To date, much of the molecular characterization of
VICs has been performed using traditional cell culture techniques, however, VIC
phenotype is drastically altered and >80% of cells become activated myofibroblasts
within 24 hours on stiff plastic. I am working on controlling the phenotype of VICs by
manipulating their microenvironment. Understanding how the biophysical and
biochemical microenvironment influences the cells would allow for culture models that
would better recapitulate the behavior of the cells in vivo, which could lead to the
identification of treatments to prevent, halt or reverse valve disease. I am poly(ethylene
glycol) (PEG) based thiol-ene gels to control the mechanical microenvironment and
modifying the gels with peptides to provide biological epitopes to the cells.

Selected Publications:

S. Bhaskar, K.M. Pollock, M. Yoshida, J. Lahann, “Towards designer microparticles:
simultaneous control of anisotropy, shape, and size,” Small, 6(3), 404-11 (2011)