Current Members

Principal Investigator

Nenad Bursac

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

nenad_dot_bursac_@_duke_dot_edu

(919) 660-5510

Embryonic and adult stem cell therapies for heart and muscle disease; cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue engineering; cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmias; genetic modifications of stem and somatic cells; micropatterning of proteins and hydrogels.

Research Scientists

Karen Heman

karen.heman@duke.edu

I will be performing rodent surgeries to support cardiac and skeletal muscle studies.

Alastair Khodabukus

alastair.khodabukus@duke.edu

I work on developing more physiologically relevant tissue engineered skeletal muscle to study both healthy and diseased muscle physiology in human and rat cells.

Renzhi Zhan

zhan0001@duke.edu

I am working on human engineered skeletal and cardiac muscle for organ-on-chip studies.

Laboratory Staff

Ian Levitan

ian.levitan@duke.edu

 I am interested in the role of fibroblasts in cardiac regeneration. 

Sumie Okuwa

Lab Manager

sumie.okuwa@duke.edu

I am the lab manager for the Bursac Lab, and I also assist lab members with molecular biology and cell culture.

Post-Doctoral Associates

Zhaowei Chen

chenzhaowei26@gmail.com

I am interested in developing organ-on-chip platforms containing engineered cardiac and skeletal muscle microtissues to enable high throughput pharmacological and genome editing screening.

Ke Huang

ke.huang@duke.edu

I am a postdoctoral associate in biomedical engineering at Duke University. My research focuses on the application of cell therapy, cardiac tissue engineering, and genetic engineering to improve heart repair after myocardial infarction.

Ethan Lotz

ethan.lotz@duke.edu

I am interested in developing functional neuromuscular junctions in vitro, the roles immune and glial cells play in the innervation of skeletal muscle, and regenerative strategies for the reinnervation of skeletal muscle following volumetric muscle loss in vivo.

Navid Nafissi

navid.nafissi@duke.edu

I am interested in developing gene therapies for cardiac arrhythmias.

Jordan Pomeroy

jordan.pomeroy@duke.edu

I am interested in the fidelity of the electrical system and the role of fibroblasts in cardiac regeneration.

Graduate Students

Torie Broer

toriebroer@gmail.com

I am  studying how the presence of immune cells affects the development and function of engineered skeletal muscle tissue.

Sophia Bunnell

sophia.bunnell@duke.edu

I am working on cardiomyocyte proliferation in the context of regeneration.

Taylor Chavez

taylor.chavez@duke.edu

I am interested in engineering skeletal muscle tissue and studying its regenerative capabilities in vitro.

Zachary Fralish

zachary.fralish@duke.edu

I am interested in the functionality and regenerative capabilities of engineered skeletal muscle.

Abbi Helfer

abbi.helfer@gmail.com

I work on human cardiac tissue engineering from pluripotent stem cells, and gene editing.

Binjie Li

binjie.li657@duke.edu

I am currently working on designing a stretch device to enhance the development and maturation of cardiac muscle tissue.

Nicholas Strash

nicholas.strash@duke.edu

I am currently interested in studying the role of polyploidy in the context of proliferation and maturation of human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes.

Jason Wang

jason.t.wang@duke.edu

I am exploring methods to improve the regenerative capacity of engineered tissues derived from human skeletal muscle cells.

Tianyu Wu

tianyu.wu@duke.edu

My research focuses on developing prokaryotic voltage-gated sodium channels (BacNav) based gene therapies for cardiac arrhythmias.

Undergraduate Students

Geovanni Janer Carattini

geovanni.janer.carattini@duke.edu

I am studying the proliferation of cardiomyocytes.

Anya Gupta

anya.gupta@duke.edu

I help with DNA mini and midi preps, the aliquoting of solutions, lab cleanup and maintenance, restocking items, and autoclaving standard laboratory materials.

Ishika Gupta

I am a sophomore at Duke pursuing a biology major on the pre-med track. In this lab, I will be helping study how the presence of immune cells effects the development and function of engineered skeletal muscle tissue.

Lillian Hiser

lillian.hiser@duke.edu

I am currently working on the improvement of the structure and function of primary human and induced pluripotent stem cell engineered skeletal muscle tissues, which will be used for improved disease modeling of Duchenne muscular dystrophy and dysferlinopathy.

Aleksandra Koroza

aleksandra.koroza@duke.edu

I am currently studying the development of engineered skeletal muscle tissue.

Kishen Mitra

kishen.mitra@duke.edu

I am currently working on human cardiac tissue engineering from pluripotent stem cells.

Ashley Myers

ashley.n.myers@duke.edu

I am currently studying methods to induce cardiomyocyte proliferation.

Ramona Naseri

ramona.naseri@duke.edu

I am currently studying cardiomyocyte proliferation and maturation.

Emma Quigg

My role is to assist with lab cleanup and maintenance, restocking items, and DNA mini and midi preps.

Maya Suzuki

maya.suzuki@duke.edu

I assist with DNA midiprep and miniprep, cleaning/maintenance, and restocking lab items.

Sabrina Tran

sabrina.tran@duke.edu

I am studying the treatment of Pompe’s disease in engineered tissues derived from human skeletal muscle cells.