Researchers Collaborate on Simulations to Develop Longer-Lasting Artificial Heart Valves


   Michael Sacks

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health has awarded Professor Michael Sacks and collaborators a $2.48 million, four-year grant to develop a novel approach for the computational simulation of the functional performance of bioprosthetic heart valves.

Although they are the most popular replacement modality today, bioprosthetic heart valves are limited to a 10- to 15-year life span, which means patients may need to undergo more than one major valve-replacement surgery in their lifetimes. Professor Sacks’ and collaborators will develop an integrated novel approach to simulate the fatigue damage behavior of bioprosthetic heart valves and use these simulations to develop novel xenograft biomaterials with improved durability.

The research will be a highly collaborative effort integrating computational biomechanical simulations of biomaterial performance and novel data from large animal studies. The development of these models will enable researchers to determine how to improve the structural durability of bioprosthetic heart valves, which deteriorate due to calcification and stresses from the mechanical demands of blood flow.

Sacks will develop models in the Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences (ICES) Center for Cardiovascular Simulation’s computational engineering laboratory, as well as conduct key experiments in the Center’s biomechanical experimental laboratories, which reside in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He is working with Dr. Joseph Gorman, a professor of cardiovascular surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Naren Vyavahare, a professor of bioengineering at Clemson University.