Assistant Professor Mehdi Nikkhah’s vision of a microengineered chip to better understand heart attacks is being rewarded by the National Science Foundation with a CAREER Award totaling $500,000 over the next five years. Photo by Jessica Hochreiter/ASU

Microengineering a heart attack

What if researchers could create a heart attack-on-a-chip to better understand a leading killer in the U.S.?

Organ-on-a-chip has been a flourishing field in biomedical engineering in recent years. Researchers create micro-engineered chips — such as lung-on-a-chip, artery-on-a-chip and kidney-on-a-chip — that behave like human organs. These chips simulate the biological activities of a specific organ, making them ideal for studying the organ’s behaviors and for performing drug screening studies.

“I was fascinated with the idea of saving lives,” he said.

When he discovered the field of biomedical engineering and enrolled in his master’s program he felt that his childhood ambition could still be realized.

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