Engineering Myocardium for Heart Regeneration and Health

Register in advance for this meeting: 

Friday, April 17, 2020 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
Kareen L. K. Coulombe


Assistant Professor of Engineering and Medical Science and Director, Biomedical Engineering Graduate Study
Brown University, School of Engineering

Engineering Myocardium for Heart Regeneration and Health


The Coulombe Lab aims to restore contractile function to the heart after myocardial infarction (MI) and prevent toxicity-induced heart disease using tissue engineered from human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes.  We design engineered cardiac tissue to integrate the biomechanics of the scaffold architecture with the maturing contractile phenotype of hiPSC-derived cardiomyocytes using scaffold-free or natural biomaterial systems such as wet-spun collagen microfibers in bespoke patterns that mimic the mechanical anisotropy of myocardium.  Maximizing the benefit of this engineered tissue in vivo for post-MI regeneration will require a dense, perfused vascular bed, which is a persistent challenge in the field.  In our engineered cardiac tissue, we leverage the innate ability of the host vasculature to grow into implanted engineered tissue by embedding alginate microspheres as local depots of angiogenic factors to instruct new vessel growth into implanted engineered cardiac tissue in a rat ischemia/reperfusion MI model.  Our recent results show improved 3D vascular perfusion of the engineered human cardiac tissue with growth factor release from microspheres and improved whole heart function.  Finally, we have developed a micro-scale model of our engineered human cardiac tissues for in vitro toxicity testing as a predictive platform for arrhythmia detection in response to environmental toxicants and pharmaceutical compounds to ensure safe exposures to maintain heart health.


Dr. Coulombe earned a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Rochester summa cum laude in 2001 and was a Whitaker Pre-doctoral Fellow, earning a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at the University of Washington in 2007. She was an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein post-doctoral fellow in Pathology at the University of Washington where she won an NIH Pathway to Independence K99/R00 award in 2012, and she started as an Assistant Professor of Engineering and Medical Science at Brown University in January 2014. She was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame at the University of Rochester in 2016; was named a Rising Star in 2017 by the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Group of BMES; was a Finalist for the Young Investigator Award at the Regenerative Medicine Workshop at Charleston (2019); and was awarded the Dean's Award for Excellence in Mentoring in Engineering at Brown in 2019. She lives in Pawtucket, RI with her husband and two daughters and is an avid gardener and baker.