Dr. Michael E. Davis spoke as part of the CMI Functional Tissue Engineering Fall 2018 Seminar Series on September 27. Dr. Davis is the Director of the Children’s Heart Research and Outcomes (HeRO) Center and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory University and Georgia Tech. His seminar is entitled: Bioengineered Approaches to Pediatric Cell Therapy.
Congenital heart defects (CHD) are present in 8 of 1000 newborns (35,000 annually) and palliative surgical therapy has greatly increased their survival. Despite improved surgical outcomes, many children still develop reduced cardiac function and go on to heart failure and transplantation. CHD are the leading cause of right-ventricular (RV) failure in the pediatric population, especially in patients with diseases like Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and Tetrology of Fallot. The use of stem/progenitor cells to treat cardiac dysfunction in congenital patients is relatively new. HeRO and others have published several studies demonstrating the potential of pediatric progenitor cells, but with caveats that certain factors can decrease efficacy. In his talk, Dr. Davis outlined specific ways that they used computational modeling to both understand the mechanisms of cell therapy, as well as ways to improve efficacy. These bioengineered approaches centered on the use of Notch signaling and native cues to direct progenitor cell function.