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Sara S. Nunes de Vasconcelos, Ph.D.

January 1, 2020

Division of Experimental Therapeutics
Toronto General Hopistal Research Institute and University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario

Primary Research:

Motivated by the need to generate alternative therapeutic avenues to treat cardiovascular diseases, my research interests involve the development of vascularization strategies in combination with human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes for regenerative medicine. Current areas of research in the lab include 1) studying the effects of diabetes in vascularized, engineered tissues, 2) the crosstalk between vascular and parenchyma cells such as cardiomyocytes and beta-cells, and how diabetes and diabetes drugs affect this communication, 3) the generation of human tissue mimics (heart-on-a-chip devices) as surrogate human tissues for cell biology studies, disease modeling and drug screening purposes, 4) understanding the nature and mechanistic basis of vessel maturation in engineered tissues. Our long-term goal is to provide the basis for the development of innovative tools for regenerative medicine.

Lab Web Site:

Members of the laboratory:

Xuetao Sun, PhD – Research Associate
Yassaman Aghazadeh, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow
Kayla Soon – Graduate Student
Omar Mourad – Graduate Student
Safwat Khan – Graduate Student
Blessing Nkennor – Undergraduate Student (not present in group pic)

Lab pic2 NunesVasconcelos

Recent Publications:

  • Sun X, Nkennor R, Mastikhina O, Soon K and Nunes SS. “Endothelium-mediated contributions to fibrosis”. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology - Special issue on Mechanisms of Fibrosis. 2019. In press.
  • Altalhi W, Hatkar R, Hoying JB, Aghazadeh Y and Nunes SS. “Type I diabetes delays perfusion and engraftment of 3D constructs by impinging on angiogenesis; which can be rescued by hepatocyte growth factor supplementation”. 2019 Young Innovators Special Issue of the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering journal. May 2019. 12, 443-454.
  • Mastikhina O, Moon B-U, Williams K, Hatkar R, Gustafson D, Sun X, Koo M, Lam AYL, Sun Y, Fish JE, Young EKW, Nunes SS. “Human cardiac fibrosis-on-a-chip model recapitulates disease hallmarks and can serve as a platform for drug screening“ bioRxiv, 632406. 2019.
  • Altalhi W, Sun X, Sivak JM, Husain M and Nunes SS. "Diabetes impairs arterio-venous specification in engineered vascular tissues in a perivascular cell recruitment-dependent manner". Biomaterials. 2017. 119:23-32.
  • Nunes SS (co-corresponding author), Feric N, Pahnke A, Miklas JW, Li M, Coles J, Gagliardi M, Keller G and Radisic M. “Human stem cell-derived cardiac model of chronic drug exposure”. ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering. 2017. 3, 9, 1911-1921.
  • Zhang B, Montgomery M, Chamberlain D, Wells LA, Nunes SS, Nanthakumar K, Sefton MV and Radisic M. “AngioChip: a biodegradable scaffold with built-in vasculature for organ-on-a-chip engineering and direct surgical anastomosis”. Nature Materials. 2016. 1-10.
  • Sun, X, Altalhi W and Nunes SS (corresponding author). “Vascularization strategies of engineered tissues and their application in cardiac regeneration”. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews special issue: Tissue engineering of the heart: from in vitro models to regenerative solutions. 2016. 96:183-194.
  • Miklas JW, Nunes SS, Sofla A and Radisic M. "Bioreactor for modulation of cardiac microtissue phenotype by combined mechanical and electrical stimulation”. Biofabrication. Special issue: Micro and nano materials for tissue engineering. 2014, 6(2):024113.
  • Nunes SS, Miklas JW, Liu J, Aschar-Sobi R, Xiao Y, Zhang B, Jiang J, Masse S, Gagliardi M, Hsieh A, Thanvadiran N, Laflamme MA, Nanthakumar K, Gross G, Backx P, Keller G and Radisic M. "Biowire: a platform for maturation of human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes". Nature Methods. 2013. 10:781-787.