Current Members

Principal Investigator

Nenad Bursac

Professor of Biomedical Engineering


(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

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

Alastair Khodabukus

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

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

Laboratory Staff

Sumie Okuwa

Lab Manager

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

Lacey Tallent

Associate in Research

I work with patient-derived cells in culture to better understand degenerative skeletal muscle diseases.

Post-Doctoral Associates

Zhaowei Chen

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

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.

Hanjun Li

I study the mechanisms of ion channel trafficking in reponse to biomechanical cues.

Ethan Lotz

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.

Jordan Pomeroy

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

Graduate Students

Torie Broer

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

Sophia Bunnell

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

Abbi Helfer

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

Henry Randall

I study the effects of genetic modifications on skeletal muscle bundles in order to learn more about atherosclerosis.

Nicholas Strash

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

Jason Wang

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

Undergraduate Students

Geovanni Janer Carattini

I am studying the proliferation of cardiomyocytes.

Anya Gupta

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

Lillian Hiser

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.

Sabrina Tran

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

Maria ter Weele

I am working on characterizing engineered sodium channels.

Chris Zhou

I’m currently working on macrophage induced human skeletal muscle regeneration and developing an in vitro model for glycogen storage diseases using engineered human muscle.