McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Michael Sacks (pictured), Ph.D., William Kepler Whiteford Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, as well as the Director, Engineered Tissue Mechanics and Mechanobiology Lab, McGowan Institute, has been named a 2008 Fellow in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). A Fellow is the highest elected grade of membership within ASME, the attainment of which recognizes exceptional engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession. Dr. Sacks’ appointment acknowledges his international reputation as a leader in the field of soft tissue mechanics employing several innovative experimental measurement techniques and computational modeling to characterize biological soft tissues. His work on the biomechanics of native and prosthetic heart valves and in the development of tissue engineered heart valves has earned him a reputation as a premier researcher in this field.
Dr. Sacks’ overall research focus is quantification and modeling of the structure-mechanical properties of native and engineered soft tissues, with a focus on tissues of the cardiovascular and urological systems. In particular, his laboratory has focused on the mechanical behavior and function of the native aortic and mitral heart valves, including the development of the first constitutive (stress-strain) models for these tissues using a structural approach. The laboratory is also active in the biomechanics of engineered tissues, and in particular understanding the in-vitro and in-vivo remodeling processes from a functional biomechanical perspective. To acquire the necessary critical experimental data, Dr. Sacks’ laboratory has developed several novel methods to quantify tissue structure and multi-axial mechanical testing techniques. By integrating the resulting experimental data obtained from both techniques, his team has developed structural constitutive (stress-strain) models that directly integrate information on tissue composition and structure. These models avoid ambiguities in material characterization, offering insight into the function, structure, and mechanics of tissue components.
More recent work includes multi-scale studies of cell/tissue/organ mechanical interactions in heart valves. Dr. Sacks is particularly interested in determining the local stress environment for heart valve interstitial cells. Next, he and his team are currently utilizing an integrated experimental/multi-scale finite element approach to determine how hemodynamic loading on the valve translates to altered stress states on the valve interstitial cell function and, in-turn, changes in local extra-cellular structure/composition and valve function.
Founded in 1880, ASME is a not-for-profit professional organization that promotes the art, science, and practice of mechanical and multidisciplinary engineering and allied sciences throughout the world. The core values of ASME are rooted in its mission to better enable mechanical engineering practitioners to contribute to the well-being of humankind. With a membership of more than 127,000 mechanical engineers and allied professionals from around the world, ASME serves this wide-ranging technical community through high-quality programs in continuing education, the development and maintenance of codes and standards, research, conferences and publications, government relations, and various forms of outreach.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
ASME 2008 Fellows Listing
Dr. Sacks’ Engineered Tissue Mechanics and Mechanobiology Lab