New CU-Boulder Program Links Engineering And Heart Health

Published: June 17, 2003

The mechanical engineering department at the University of Colorado at Boulder has been awarded a five-year, $900,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to establish a new program where graduate students will research and design devices for improved treatment of heart disease.

The grant, which will involve faculty from the Boulder campus, the CU Health Sciences Center and Children's Hospital, will support pre- and post-doctoral research in cardiovascular modeling, blood flow, medical imaging and device and instrumentation design. Six fellowships will be awarded starting in fall 2003.

Among the new medical devices being developed by CU faculty is a "smart" heart valve, which employs a microelectronic sensor to accurately measure blood flow and predict valve malfunction caused by the buildup of thrombus.

Cardiologists in the departments of pediatrics and medicine at the Health Sciences Center will join faculty in the departments of mechanical engineering, and kinesiology and applied physiology at CU-Boulder in training and supervising the research fellows.

"This new grant will further establish our program as one of the most integrated programs in cardiovascular biomechanics and imaging anywhere in the country," said Robin Shandas, joint associate professor of mechanical engineering and pediatric cardiology. "One of the key strengths of this program is the significant biomedical and clinical interaction available to trainees."

The training program will expand on work currently being done in the intercampus CU research center, MicroElectronic Devices in Cardiovascular Applications. MEDICA was established in 1999 as a collaboration between biomedical engineers and cardiologists to explore engineering solutions to cardiovascular problems.

MEDICA researchers have used computational and experimental fluid dynamics techniques to improve surgical connections in the treatment of pediatric cardiovascular disease, understand the dynamics of how the heart fills with blood and develop microsystems as sensors and actuators for the early diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

For more information contact Robin Shandas at (303) 492-0553 or