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Newswise — FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Kartik Balachandran, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Arkansas, has received a $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development Program award from the National Science Foundation to further his research in heart valve disease.

Balachandran’s research focuses on understanding the multi-scale relationship between structure, architecture and mechanics related to the biological behavior of cells and tissues in disease processes.

The award will allow him to study the role mechanical forces and cell shape play in dictating endothelial-mesenchymal transformation, a process involved in fetal development and also in diseases such as heart valve disease and cancer.

Balachandran will focus on the role of endothelial-mesenchymal transformation in causing heart valve pathologies, and insights from this project are expected to yield new therapeutic strategies to treat valve disease.

The award will also support an educational component centered on exposing underrepresented high-school seniors to multidisciplinary engineering research at a week-long summer camp. The camp will integrate theory and practice of mechano-biology and artificial tissue fabrication and will increase student awareness and interest in science and engineering.

Faculty Early Career Development Program, or CAREER, grants are among the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards for junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research and education and integration of both within the context of their institution’s mission. Research activities supported by CAREER awards build the foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in a wide spectrum of disciplines. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and offers more than 200 academic programs. The university maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio of 19:1 that promotes personal attention and mentoring opportunities. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas 69th among the 623 American public research universities, and the university’s goal is be top 50 by the celebration of its 150th anniversary in 2021.

CONTACTS: Kartik Balachandran, assistant professor, Department of Biomedical EngineeringCollege of Engineering479-575-3376, [email protected]

Sandra Amador, intern University Relations 479-575-5555, [email protected]

Matt McGowan, science and research communications officerUniversity Relations479-575-4246, [email protected]

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