Marta Scatena, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Studies in my laboratory are aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying the pathological processes of cardiovascular diseases. In particular we are interested in the control and regulation of endothelial cells function and angiogenesis, and the control of inflammation. It is well recognized that cardiovascular disease is the underlying cause of catastrophic events like heart failure, stroke, and other life-threatening maladies. These events make it the biggest killer in the Western World. It is, therefore, essential to understand its development and progression mechanisms, with the goal of devising ways to therapeutically intervene and lessen its damaging effects.
We are interested in angiogenesis and its regulation since the lack of proper neovascularization — and of an integral vascular network connected to the host — is one of the biggest barriers to the development of functional-engineered constructs for tissue and organ repair. We are incorporating new biological and engineering concepts and tools to answer basic biological and more applied questions like: what’s the best cell source? How do different cell types in the complex environment of the heart interact and modulate each other? What’s the best tissue-engineered scaffold supporting neovascularization? What’s the best delivery method?
We are also interested in inflammation and its control in relation to vascular diseases, like atherosclerosis, and to the chronic responses observed when a foreign body, either an unwanted object or, more commonly, any type of biomedical device, is introduced in the human body (often termed ‘foreign body reaction’). It is imperative to properly control the foreign body reaction in order to achieve full integration and proper function of biomedical devices including engineered tissue substitutes.