Meyerhoff Graduate Fellows Program

Student Profiles

Joseph Washington
Mechanical Engineering

Area of Doctoral Study: Mechanical Engineering
Undergraduate Institute: University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)
Graduate Institute: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (MSE)

Research Advisor: Timmie Topeleski, Ph.D.

Description of Research

According to the American Heart Association [1], cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been the number one killer in the United States every year since 1900 excluding 1918. Currently, there are approximately 71,300,000 American adults with one or more types of CVD. CVD kills approximately 2,500 American’s daily and claims more lives annually than cancer, chronic lower respiratory disease, accidents, and diabetes combined. The aging process results in several progressive and irreversible processes that increase the cardiovascular system’s susceptibility to disease. As we age, blood vessels experience changes such as arterial stiffening and thickening of the lumen, which are major risk factors for such diseases as hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease and heart failure. The changes associated with the aging processes in the microstructure, elastin in particular, of the vasculature may lead to changes in the mechanical behavior of the arteries. The purpose of this research project will be to determine a relationship between age and the mechanical behavior of the elastin component in various arteries such as the aorta, coronary, carotid, renal and cerebral arteries. In particular, mechanical properties, such as elastic modulus, hardness, and fatigue properties as a function of age will be investigated.

1. American Heart Association. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics — 2006 Update. Dallas, Texas: American Heart Association; 2006.  ©2006, American Heart Association.
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