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Danielle Klinger

Congenital heart defects (CHD) are the most common birth abnormalities in the US. However, the causes of many congenital heart defects remain unknown, in part due to our limited ability to study human embryonic heart development - when CHDs are believed to develop. Cardiac organoids are lab-grown miniature 3D tissue structures, consisting of some heart-like cell types and mimicking certain aspects of a real human heart. These organoids serve as a heart model system that can advance our understanding of early heart development. Nonetheless, cardiac organoids still lack key developmental features of the heart. My research is currently focused on engineering more realistic cardiac organoids, to create a more accurate structure and better representation of the developing heart's cells. To do so, I will use an interdisciplinary approach of tissue engineering, 3D printing, and cellular biology methods. I hope this novel platform will be used to uncover new genetic pathways that can be targeted to treat congenital heart disease.