Priya R. Baraniak graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE) from Duke University in 2001 after double majoring in Electrical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. While at Duke, Priya conducted research in the lab of Dr. Doris A. Taylor on the use of skeletal myoblasts and stem cells for cardiac repair and regeneration. Priya received her Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008. She completed her dissertation research in the laboratory of Dr. William R. Wagner working on developing a controlled release biodegradable elastomer for applications in cardiovascular regenerative medicine. In 2008, Priya joined Dr. Todd McDevitt’s lab in theDepartment of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University as a post-doctoral fellow. Her post-doctoral research is focused on isolating stem cell extracellular matrices for use as scaffolds in tissue repair and regeneration.
Since the adult myocardium lacks the inherent ability to repair itself following ischemic injury, exogenous cell sources for the repair of infarcted myocardium have been investigated, and it has been demonstrated that transplanted cells may impart functional benefits via the secretion of growth factors and extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules. Such mitigation of tissue repair by cell-derived molecules represents a significant paradigm shift in the therapeutic application of stem and progenitor cells and provides a novel approach to myocardial repair. My research aims are to (1) examine the effects of three-dimensional cell culture systems on adult progenitor cell differentiation, growth factor synthesis, and ECM production, and (2) to determine the effects of progenitor cell-derived factors on ischemic cells and tissues in vitro and in vivo. These studies should yield new insights into the cues presented to injured myocardium by exogenously administered progenitor cells and lead to the development of novel, ECM-derived biomaterials for cardiac repair and regeneration.