Associate Professor and Undergraduate Program Director, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Biotech One Room 1071, Richmond, VA, UNITED STATES
Professor Heise studies pulmonary mechanotransduction, including lung injury and pulmonary regenerative medicine
B.S., Biomedical and Health Engineering
B.S., Chemical Engineering
Newswise — Athens, Ga. – Mechanical ventilation can be a lifesaver for patients suffering from lung disorders such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma and pneumonia. Unfortunately, the use of ventilators to support breathing can cause further lung injury, particularly in elderly patients. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Georgia and Virginia Commonwealth University has developed a computer model to help scientists better understand changes in lung function and respiratory mechanics as people age. They say their work could lead to improved treatment protocols for patients requiring mechanical ventilation. The study was published yesterday in the journal PLOS ONE. Co-authors of the study are Rebecca Heise, an associate professor in the department of biomedical engineering at VCU; Angela Reynolds, an associate professor in the department of mathematics and applied mathematics at VCU; and JongWon Kim, a research associate in the UGA College of Engineering.view more
As we age, our lungs, tissues and airways are changing and becoming more sensitive. We think that for elderly patients, those changes may play a role in the inflammatory response and how well they respond to ventilation. So our models account for the effects of aging. For this work I am collaborating with experts in engineering and medicine, including Rebecca Heise, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical engineering in the VCU School of Engineering; Ramana Pidaparti, Ph.D., professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering in the VCU School of Engineering; and Kevin Ward, M.D., formerly with the VCU School of Medicine and now faculty at the University of Michigan...view more
National Science Foundation
Studying mechanotransduction of alveolar epithelial cells leading to pulmonary fibrosis.
National Institutes of Health
Studying mechanotransduction of aging cells in the lung.
Taught Spring Semesters
• 4 h mechanical ventilation causes lung injury and death in elderly mice.
• The effect is strongly blunted in young subjects or by using a low tidal volume.
• Pulmonary edema was hypothesized as an upstream mechanism of this mortality.
• A novel conservative fluid protocol was proposed to attenuate these effects.
• Conservative fluid support significantly decreased edema and mortality in old mice.
The complexity and rapid clearance mechanisms of lung tissue make it difficult to develop effective treatments for many chronic pathologies. We are investigating lung derived extracellular matrix (ECM) hydrogels as a novel approach for delivery of cellular therapies to the pulmonary system. The main objectives of this study include effective decellularization of porcine lung tissue, development of a hydrogel from the porcine ECM, and characterization of the material's composition, mechanical properties, and ability to support cellular growth. Our evaluation of the decellularized tissue indicated successful removal of cellular material and immunogenic remnants in the ECM. The self-assembly of the lung ECM hydrogel was rapid, reaching maximum modulus values within 3 min at 37°C. Rheological characterization showed the lung ECM hydrogel to have a concentration dependent storage modulus between 15 and 60 Pa. The purpose of this study was to evaluate our novel ECM derived hydrogel and measure its ability to support 3D culture of MSCs in vitro and in vivo delivery of MSCs. Our in vitro experiments using human mesenchymal stem cells demonstrated our novel ECM hydrogel's ability to enhance cellular attachment and viability. Our in vivo experiments demonstrated that rat MSC delivery in pre-gel solution significantly increased cell retention in the lung over 24 h in an emphysema rat model. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Biomed Mater Res Part A: 104A: 1922–1935, 2016.view more
The field of stem cell biology, cell therapy, and regenerative medicine has expanded almost exponentially, in the last decade. Clinical trials are evaluating the potential therapeutic use of stem cells in many adult and pediatric lung diseases with vascular component, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), or pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Extensive research activity is exploring the lung resident and circulating progenitor cells and their contribution to vascular complications of chronic lung diseases, and researchers hope to use resident or circulating stem/progenitor cells to treat chronic lung diseases and their vascular complications. It is becoming more and more clear that progress in mechanobiology will help to understand the various influences of physical forces and extracellular matrix composition on the phenotype and features of the progenitor cells and stem cells. The current review provides an overview of current concepts in the field.view more