Bioengineering and Bioscience
1. Early events in atherosclerosis
Theoretical and complementary experimental tools are being used to investigate a) the transport of water and macromolecules into the walls of arteries and other vessels and into the leaflets of cardiac and A/V valves and b) the accumulation of such macromolecules inside these structures. The working hypothesis is that these mechanical and chemical processes are necessary precursors for the triggering of atherosclerosis and, contrapositively, if one could inhibit their progression, one could interfere with atherogenesis. Current work aims at understanding the transport and accumulation mechanisms of water and macromolecules in veins, in the pulmonary artery and in peripheral arteries. The goal is to see if the short-time transport and accumulation processes in these vessels correlate with the long-term susceptibilities of the vessels to atherosclerosis. This would clarify the convective-diffusive-reactive basis for the early events in atherosclerosis. Such insight might be valuable in selecting candidate vessels to be used in bypass procedures. This work currently involves extensive experimental work on the rat model as well as theoretical transport and kinetic modeling.
2. Novel methods for fast time-resolved FTIR spectroscopy and their application to protein folding
A new technique has been devised that, in principle, should make it possible obtain complete fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectra of evolving systems on a time scale of tens of microseconds, almost two orders of magnitude faster than the state of the art. A prime application for such a technique would be to observe the intermediate states in the folding or unfolding of proteins. The proposed technique involves the fabrication and testing of a new type of sample cell, and should overcome/circumvent the problem of triggering the onset of folding associated with the long dead times in conventional stop-flow type apparatus.