Published: Oct. 13, 2020 By

Brian Aguado in grey suit with Flatirons background

Brian Aguado

Brian Aguado, a postdoctoral researcher in the Anseth Research Group, is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Postdoc Award, which recognizes postdoctoral associates and fellows at CU Boulder for their research, communication and leadership accomplishments.

“I am overwhelmed to have received this incredible award and recognition,” Aguado said. “I interact and collaborate with so many incredible postdocs daily, and it's such an honor to represent the vibrant CU Boulder postdoc community through this award.”

Aguado spent his time at CU working in the Anseth lab.

“Brian has been fearless in his approach to tackle significant medical problems through innovative biomaterials design,” Distinguished Professor Kristi Anseth said. “He also has a knack for conducting technically difficult experiments, combined with boundless energy and creativity. I am truly delighted to see Brian recognized with this distinct award from the campus.  He is a gem of a scientist and person.”

Working in the Anseth Research Group as a postdoc has helped him grow as a researcher.

“I hit the jackpot working with Kristi and her lab,” Aguado said. “Kristi has provided me with a blank slate in the laboratory to craft my own ideas for my future laboratory and encourages me to pursue my diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.”

Aguado’s postdoctoral research concerns developing a greater understanding of how aortic valve stenosis patients respond to valve replacement procedures. His work was recently published in Science Translational Medicine.

“Details of the broader biological reaction to the valve replacement have remained largely unknown, but nevertheless hold significant ramifications for quantifying the quality of recovery, the risk of complications and the assessment of overall patient outcomes,” Aguado said.

This research includes extensive collaboration with Timothy McKinsey and his research group at the cardiology division at the CU Anschutz School of Medicine. Aguado’s cross-disciplinary research also includes collaboration with Leslie Leinwand and her research group at the BioFrontiers Institute.

“We developed heart tissue models using cardiac cells cultured on soft materials that closely mimic cardiac tissue stiffness, coupled with serum from a patient’s blood,” Aguado said. “Using our models, we demonstrated that cellular responses to serum are patient-specific and provide insight into patients’ responses to valve replacement.”

This research is part of Aguado’s broader interest in developing precision biomaterials as tools to design or deliver personalized therapies to individual patients with unique needs.

“In the short term, I hope to identify strategies on how to treat diseases that vary between women and men more effectively, including various cardiovascular diseases,” Aguado said.

Aguado has a long list of people to credit with his early career success.

“First and foremost, I always thank my family for providing me with endless support and love—I would not be here without you today,” he said.

“I'd also love to take this opportunity and send a very special thank you to Kristi and my numerous academic mentors and collaborators, including my PhD mentor Lonnie Shea and my undergraduate mentor Sarah Heilshorn. I also thank all of my lab colleagues and mentees that have all helped me be a better scientist and person. Thank you also to the numerous CU Boulder postdocs I have worked with to advance the mission of the Postdoctoral Association of Colorado.

“Finally, I'd like to thank the LatinXinBME community and my co-founder Ana Maria Porras—our community has provided me with much needed support through difficult times.”

Aguado recently accepted an assistant professor position with the UC San Diego Bioengineering department, where he will pursue patient-specific biomaterials to understand sex differences in cardiovascular diseases and guide the development of sex-specific therapeutics.