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Merryman Mechanobiology Laboratory

The Merryman Mechanobiology Laboratory (MML) is a research group in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Vanderbilt University.

The oldest focus of the lab is in the area of mechanobiology – the study of how mechanical forces or deformations alter cellular signaling, phenotype, and biosynthetic function. We are particularly interested in how mechanical forces lead to fibrosis, primarily in cardiovascular and renal disease. We are interested in the mechano-dependent activation of myofibroblasts and the complimentary roles of smooth muscle actin and cadherin-11. We also have become more interested in the fibrotic potential that arises when fibroblasts interact with immune cells during disease. We are focused on targeting cadherin-11 in a variety of cardiovascular and renal diseases.

The second focus of the lab is GPCR targeted drug strategies for heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension via serotonergic receptors. We are utilizing the lessons learned from the weight loss drug, Phen-Fen, which caused heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension in healthy patients within 6 months. We believe that this strategy can potentially treat age-related heart valve disease and pulmonary hypertension.