Posted by: missouriugr | July 13, 2007

Laura Heinzke, MU Senior | 2007 Summer Research in New Mexico

Hi! I am working under Dr. Elizabeth Dirk at the University of New Mexico (Albuquerque) this summer. The longterm goal of our lab is to develop a tissue engineered heart valve. Current heart valve replacements have a high failure rate and are unable to grow or repair themselves, which is something we hope our heart valve will be able to do. My project for this summer is to determine how the surface chemistry of materials affect valvular interstitial cell (VIC) function. VICs are one type of cell that populates the heart valve and they believed to be the ones responsible for valve growth and repair. By determining how the VICs will be effected by different surfaces, we will be able to design a better scaffold that the VICs will grow more readily on.

We have to cut up pig hearts to obtain the VICs which is pretty neat I think. I don’t have pictures of that yet but I will send them along when I get them. 🙂

My REU group has been amazing. We have an adventurous group of people who like to do new things every weekend so I have been fortunate to see quite a bit of New Mexico. We have climbed the sandia mountains, went white water rafting down the Rio Grande, visited Tent Rocks, Bandelier park, Los Alamos National labs, the Petroglyphs, santa fe, Roswell and Toas and we have a trip planned this weekend to go caving in Carlsbad Caverns. I have had a wonderful time!

Hope all is well at Mizzou,

Laura Heinzke, MU Senior (I’m doing LSUROP this coming year)
Major: Chemistry, Biology
MU Mentor: Jeff Smith in the Radiology Department

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