Griffiths Cardiovascular Research Laboratory


Photo: Kyriacos A. Athanasiou

Kyriacos A. Athanasiou

Distinguished Professor, Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering

The main objective of Professor Athanasiou’s research is to understand and enhance the healing processes of cartilage. Indeed, successful cartilage regeneration continues to be the most vexing problem in musculoskeletal medicine. Following trauma (such as sports injuries) or pathologic affliction (such as osteoarthritis), cartilage is unable to heal itself in a way that would allow it to function properly under its strenuous and biomechanically difficult environment.

Photo: Jan Nolta

Jan Nolta

Professor, Director, Stem Cell Research Program, Director, UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures

In addition to conducting groundbreaking research into human stem cells, Dr. Nolta is overseeing the expansion of UC Davis' exploration of regenerative medicine, which includes recruiting and hiring additional scientists to complement more than 130 faculty members who are already affiliated with the stem cell program. She joined UC Davis in 2006 after serving for four years as scientific director of the cell and gene therapy Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facility at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Her translational research is focused on developing improved stem cell therapies for treating neurodegenerative diseases including Huntington's and Parkinson's disease, liver disease, lysosomal storage diseases, peripheral vascular disease, and others.

CV (pdf)

Photo: W. Douglas Boyd

W. Douglas Boyd

Professor, Department of Surgery

Cardiothoracic Surgery

Dr. Boyd is recognized for his pioneering work in cardiothoracic surgery and for his use of robotic-assisted surgical systems. He specializes in minimally invasive cardiac and robotic-assisted heart surgery. He completed the world's first closed-chest, beating-heart coronary artery bypass surgery using a robotic system in 1999 and performed the first human extracellular matrix xenograft implant for cardiovascular repair several years later. Prior to his appointment as a professor of surgery at UC Davis Health System, Dr. Boyd served as chair of the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Florida. As the author of more than 50 peer-reviewed, journal articles, Dr. Boyd's research interests include cardiac tissue regeneration using extracellular matrix/stem cells, new techniques for robot-assisted minimally invasive coronary artery revascularization, valve surgery and telesurgery. He is a graduate of Carleton University and obtained his medical degree the University of Ottawa.

CV (pdf)

Photo: Jerry Hu

Jerry Hu

Principal Development Engineer - Athanasiou Lab at University of California, Davis

Jerry Hu has a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Bioengineering from Rice University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin. His research has led to numerous publications, presentations, and invitations to review articles submitted to journals such as Tissue Engineering and Arthritis & Rheumatism. Jerry has 10 years of experience in the study and development of materials, bioreactors, and culture methods for articular cartilage tissue engineering. Jerry has made significant contributions to the research of developing new approaches for cartilage tissue engineering, such as the formation of neotissue without a scaffold, the design and application of mechanical stimulators, and the acquisition of novel autologous cell sources. Tissue engineering is a highly multidisciplinary field that combines the knowledge from materials science, cell and molecular biology, engineering, and medicine. Jerry’s expertise in all of these areas, which are indispensable techniques in conducting biomedical research, has allowed him to mentor students at the graduate, undergraduate, and high school levels. His direction and collaboration has led to several publications, presentations, and other accolades, including the filing of three patents as co-inventor.

Photo: Claus Sondergaard

Claus Sondergaard

Assistant Professor, Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Dr. Sondergaard's research focuses on human stem and progenitor cells of hematopoietic, mesenchymal and endothelial lineages and their potential to mediate tissue regeneration in pre-clinical animal models. His current research specifically focuses on the development of implantable stem cells and an extra cellular matrix scaffold device for cardiovascular repair.

CV (pdf)

Photo: Laura Marcu

Laura Marcu

Professor, Biomedical Engineering

Professor Laura Marcu and her research group develop clinically compatible laser spectroscopy and imaging systems which facilitate in-vivo investigations of the relationship between tissue pathology and measured optical responses. Projects include development of fluorescence lifetime spectroscopy techniques for the recognition of major classes of fluorescent biomolecules in biological tissue, diagnosis of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and intraoperative delineation of brain tumors. Recent work also targets optical microscopy techniques for imaging at the micro- and nano-scales, and non-invasive biological sensing.

Photo: David Fyhrie

David Fyhrie

Director of the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory

David Fyhrie is the director of the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory and holds the David Linn Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery. His research interests include bone biomechanics; bone remodeling; cartilage mechanical properties; bone cell mechanobiology; bone remodeling; fracture mechanics; and finite element modeling.

Photo: Boaz Arzi

Boaz Arzi

Assistant Professor of Dentistry and Oral Surgery at the Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences

Dr. Arzi was born in Israel. He graduated from Szaint Istvan University, Budapest, Hungary in 2002 with a degree in Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Arzi returned to Israel to become a partner in a small animal veterinary hospital in Haifa, where he completed five years of intensive clinical practice. He completed the residency training program in Dentistry and Oral Surgery at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, University of California, Davis. Dr. Arzi became a Diplomate of the American Veterinary Dental College in 2012. In the summer of 2010, Dr. Arzi joined Dr. Athanasiou’s lab in the Department of Biomedical Engineering as a post-doc fellow, working on bioengineered fibrocartilage spectrums and their surgical applications. In addition, he maintained a clinical appointment as a staff veterinarian at the Dentistry and Oral Surgery Service at the Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.

Photo: Jian Wu

Jian Wu

Adjunct Professor

Dr. Wu is a faculty member in the Department of Internal Medicine, Transplant Research Program, School of Medicine, and a member of the Graduate Group of Comparative Pathology, UC Davis. His major research interests are to develop innovative therapeutic approaches for liver injury and fibrosis, including pharmacological, molecular and gene therapy, as well as cell-based therapy and organ-specific or cell type-specific targeting drug or gene delivery. He uses RNA interference (RNAi) strategies to develop clinically applicable therapeutics for the treatment of liver injury and fibrosis. His recent studies have focused on delivering antioxidative genes for the improvement of donor organ quality as well as graft function and survival.

CV (pdf)

Photo: Kent Leach

Kent Leach

Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

The normal formation and repair of human tissues is the result of a complex series of intra- and extracellular events culminating in functional tissue. The experimental strategy of delivering a single molecule to stimulate the body’s own mechanisms of growth and repair, either systemically or from a matrix, has assisted in our biological understanding of organogenesis. However, there is accumulating evidence that a single growth factor delivered as a protein for a short duration or as gene therapy for a slightly longer duration may not be sufficient for functionally significant regeneration of tissues such as heart, bone, cornea, and others. The presence of multiple factors (i.e. growth factors, cytokines, and cells) in varied concentrations during native repair suggests the combinatorial delivery of multiple signaling molecules coupled with the exposure of cells to biomimetic surfaces may enhance the formation, growth, and function of new tissues. Consequently, the guiding theme of my research is the engineering of tissues through the combination of synthetic and natural materials, bioactive moieties such as growth factors and cells, and physical stimulation in order to achieve a more natural engineered tissue.

Photo: Dori Borjesson

Dori Borjesson

Associate Professor, Diagnostic Clinical Pathology

Dr Borjesson focuses her research on infectious disease, especially tick-borne diseases including, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, with an emphasis on host cell-pathogen interactions. Areas of particular interest include bacterial effects on hematopoiesis and platelet function as well as mechanisms of thrombocytopenia.

Photo: Derek Cissell

Derek Cissell

Assistant Professor, Surgical and Radiological Sciences

Dr. Cissell’s research interests involve development of biomedical imaging techniques to (1) detect early cartilage injury; (2) assess tissue function; and (3) non-invasively evaluate tissue regeneration.