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Dragon Hearts for Kids: A New Spin on Treatment Strategies for Pediatric Heart Failure

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

4:00 PM-5:30 PM

BIOMED Seminar

Dragon Hearts for Kids: A New Spin on Treatment Strategies for Pediatric Heart Failure

Amy Throckmorton, PhD
Associate Professor
School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems
Drexel University

Millions of babies are born each year with congenital heart defects, and thousands require immediate surgery due to severe malformations. While these children will benefit in the short-term, a growing segment with complex heart defects ultimately develop premature congestive heart failure. Children are also potentially exposed to bacteria or viruses that attack the heart muscle and impair its ability to develop and effectively pump blood. Heart transplantation becomes the only lifesaving option, complicated by a limited number of donor organs. Fortunately, children can benefit from short or long-term mechanical circulatory support in the form of a ventricular assist device (VAD), a blood pump designed to assist the heart's ventricular pumping chambers. VAD technology, however, for children lags behind that for adults, and while many intended-for-adult devices have been utilized in children, the operation of these pumps at off-design pressures and flows increases irregular blood flow patterns, contributing to dangerous hemolysis and thrombosis.

Devices also do not exist to support the anatomic and physiologic heterogeneity of childhood heart disease, to adapt to patient size ranges, and to address the increased cardiovascular demands of physical growth. Thus, there is an unmet need for new pediatric VAD technology. To address this need, Dr. Throckmorton has dedicated her career to developing novel treatment strategies for pediatric patients suffering from heart failure. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on the development of these devices: 1) dual-support, continuous flow, ventricular assist devices with an oxygenator bundle for full cardiopulmonary support, 2) minimally-invasive, rapidly deployable, percutaneous axial flow blood pump, 3) externally applied compression therapy to the lower extremities to augment systemic venous return, and 4) geometrically tunable, hydrogel-based, chemically-eluting blood shunt prostheses.

Dr. Throckmorton’s research addresses complex and unresolved hurdles in the field of pediatric heart failure and mechanical circulatory support. Her research involves a high degree of interplay between advanced computational modeling and experiments. Core areas of her research include the application of computational methods under steady and transient flow conditions, prototype testing, hemolysis evaluation, and 3‐D reconstruction of patient‐specific anatomy from imaging data to support virtual and experimental device development.

Dr. Amy L. Throckmorton is Associate Professor and Director of the BioCirc Research Laboratory in the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems at Drexel University. Formerly, she was Associate Professor and the Qimonda Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at the Virginia Commonwealth University. She held a postdoctoral fellowship in Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Riley Children’s Hospital. Dr. Throckmorton earned her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and conducted her doctoral research in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Virginia. She earned her MS in Biomedical Engineering as well as BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Virginia, and she also worked in the chemical industry as a project engineer.

Dr. Throckmorton conducts interdisciplinary research at the intersection of engineering and medicine in the development of innovative treatment strategies for infants, children, and young adults with heart failure, secondary to acquired or congenital heart disease. She has been the recipient of several honors and awards, as well as research funding from the National Science Foundation, American Heart Association, Hartwell Foundation, Jeffress Memorial Trust, Frederick Banting Foundation, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and US Department of Education.

Contact Information

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Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building (PISB), Room 120


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