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Personal profile

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"Computational modeling has critically advanced our understanding of growth and remodeling of engineered cardiovascular tissues."

Research profile

Sandra Loerakker is an associate professor at the TU/e department of Biomedical Engineering (research group Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology). Her expertise is in modeling the mechanobiology of native and engineered tissues using integrated computational and experimental methods. The ultimate goal of her research is to obtain a fundamental understanding of the biological mechanisms responsible for soft tissue development, homeostasis, and disease, and to translate those findings into novel therapies in the field of regenerative medicine. She primarily focuses on understanding how mechanical factors drive soft tissue growth and remodeling at different spatial and temporal scales.

Examples of her research include the computational analysis of growth and remodeling of native cardiovascular tissues; the analysis and prediction of in vivo remodeling of engineered cardiovascular tissues; systematic investigations of the potential impact of implant design on the remodeling of engineered tissues; the establishment of in vitro platforms to experimentally analyze soft tissue growth and remodeling; and the development of computational models to understand and predict the interplay between mechanics and cell-cell signaling in growth and remodeling.

Academic background

Sandra Loerakker was trained in Biomedical Engineering at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) where she obtained both her BSc and MSc degrees cum laude. Her MSc project concerned the development of a computational model to analyze flow fields in a failing heart supported by a ventricular assist device. In 2007, she started her PhD research on the etiology and early detection of deep pressure ulcers in skeletal muscle, using a combination of computational and experimental methods. She performed part of this research at Northwestern University (USA) and in collaboration with the University of Alberta (Canada). After defending her PhD thesis at TU/e in 2011, she continued as a postdoctoral researcher in heart valve biomechanics and mechanobiology. In 2015, she was appointed as assistant professor in Modeling in Mechanobiology at the TU/e department of Biomedical Engineering, focusing on understanding the mechanobiology of native and engineered tissues using integrated computational and experimental methods. From May 2016 – April 2017, supported by a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship, she was a visiting assistant professor at Stanford University (USA). She received an ERC Starting Grant in 2018 to explore the interplay between mechanics and cell-cell signaling in the context of cardiovascular regeneration. In 2019, she was promoted to associate professor.

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Research Output

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    Pressure-induced collagen degradation in arterial tissue as a potential mechanism for degenerative arterial disease progression

    Gaul, R. T., Nolan, D. R., Ristori, T., Bouten, C. V. C., Loerakker, S. & Lally, C., 8 Apr 2020, In : Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. 109, 10 p., 103771.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

  • A computational model to predict cell traction-mediated prestretch in the mitral valve

    van Kelle, M. A. J., Rausch, M. K., Kuhl, E. & Loerakker, S., 18 Nov 2019, In : Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering. 22, 15, p. 1174-1185 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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  • 19 Downloads (Pure)

    Prizes

    Predicting cardiovascular regeneration

    S. Loerakker (Recipient), 2018

    Prize: ERCStartingScientific

  • Courses

    Numerical analysis of continua

    1/09/13 → …

    Course

    Project Biomechanics

    1/09/14 → …

    Course

    Press / Media

    Student theses

    A constitutive material model to describe the mechanical behavior of human skin in shear, tensile and indentation tests

    Author: Rooijakkers, T., 31 Aug 2017

    Supervisor: Oomens, C. (Supervisor 1), Loerakker, S. (Supervisor 2), Lopata, R. (Supervisor 2) & Soetens, J. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Biochemical muscle damage markers for early detection of deep pressure ulcers: a pilot study and a kinetics model

    Author: Huisman, E., 28 Feb 2010

    Supervisor: Baaijens, F. (Supervisor 1), Oomens, C. (Supervisor 2), Bouten, C. (Supervisor 2), Loerakker, S. (Supervisor 2), Seelen, H. (Supervisor 2) & Glatz, J. F. (External person) (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Causes and consequences of collagen architecture remodeling in human native heart valves: temporal changes from the fetal to the adult heart valve

    Author: Oomen, P., 31 Mar 2014

    Supervisor: Baaijens, F. (Supervisor 1), Bouten, C. (Supervisor 2), Loerakker, S. (Supervisor 2), Bovendeerd, P. (Supervisor 2) & van Donkelaar, C. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Development of a finite element spine model to simulate different scoliosis treatment scenarios

    Author: van der Meer, R., 30 Apr 2016

    Supervisor: van Rietbergen, B. (Supervisor 1), Ito, K. (Supervisor 2), Arts, J. (Supervisor 2), Roth, A. (Supervisor 2) & Loerakker, S. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master

    Effects of mechanical constraints on cell-generated stress and collagen remodeling in statically cultured tissues

    Author: van Kelle, A., 30 Apr 2014

    Supervisor: Bouten, C. (Supervisor 1), Baaijens, F. (Supervisor 2), van Rietbergen, B. (Supervisor 2), Loerakker, S. (Supervisor 2) & van Loosdregt, I. (Supervisor 2)

    Student thesis: Master