Mechanics plays a critical role in tissue development, regeneration, and remodeling, as cell-cell interactions and cell-matrix interactions are known to be heavily influenced by changes in the mechanical microenvironment at the extracellular matrix (ECM)/cellular level. In the tricuspid valve (TV), located between the right ventricle and the right atrium in the heart, the leaflets open and close more than three billion times during their lifetime. Thus, TV cells and ECM maintain their homeostasis while subjected to a highly dynamic loading environment. Considering the hierarchy of the living system (i.e. heart, valves, leaflets, and ECM/cellular levels in the case of TV), it is imperative to study biomechanics and mechanobiology using multi-scale approaches. Unfortunately, such multi-scale frameworks do not currently exist, and a main goal of our research lab is to combine experimental techniques and computational simulation to address such major limitations. We are particularly interested in understanding why TV surgery has a poor long-term success rate (30% to 40% of patients who undergo surgery have had a recurrence of valve problems). We aim to understand how tricuspid valve repair procedures will affect the valve’s function at the tissue level and at the ECM (micro) level, as we believe that surgical alterations cause changes in tissue stress and tissue microstructure in ways that can eventually lead to failure of the repaired valve.
Dr. Amini completed a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota in the field of ocular biomechanics and biotransport in 2010. He then continued his research work on the mechanics of soft tissue as a postdoctoral trainee at the University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Bioengineering, where he held the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NIH F32). He conducted his postdoctoral research on the biomechanics of cardiac valves. Dr. Amini has served as an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The University of Akron since August 2013. The overall goal of his research laboratory is to improve human health by studying the multi-scale biomechanics and biotransport in cardiovascular, ocular, and digestive systems. Dr. Amini’s research has been funded by the Akron Children’s Hospital, Firestone Foundation, and American Heart Association.