PhD Fellow: Gaurav Krishnamurthy (Mechanical Engineering)
Faculty Advisors: D. Craig Miller (Cardiothoracic Surgery), Drew Nelson (Mechanical Engineering), and Neil Ingels (Cardiothoracic Surgery)

The mitral valve, which is the valve between the left atrium and left ventricle of the heart, has long been thought to be a passive flap, but Gaurav’s research, using a combination of radiopaque marker technology and inverse finite element analysis, provided new insights into the behavior of this important heart valve. Gaurav’s research showed that the mitral valve is an active structure with active muscle and interstitial cell components. Further, his research showed for the first time that the mitral valve varies its mechanical properties and stiffness during the cardiac cycle in order to deal with the changing pressure loads across the valve leaflets.