School of Medicine


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  • Karina Nakayama

    Karina Nakayama

    Instructor, Cardiothoracic Surgery

    Bio I am an Instructor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the Cardiovascular Institute at Stanford University working with Dr. Ngan Huang using spatially patterned biomimetic niches to direct cell fate, angiogenesis, and tissue regeneration. Prior to Stanford, I attained a PhD from the University of California, Davis in Biomedical Engineering in the translational laboratory of Dr. Alice Tarantal working towards regenerative therapies for congenital kidney diseases using decellularized kidney matrices and directed differentiation of stem and progenitor cells towards renal lineages.

    I am dedicated to understanding the biomechanical cell-substrate interactions that modulate cell phenotype and behavior towards enhancing tissue neurovascularization, regeneration, and function. The overarching goal of my research is the development of bioengineered therapeutics that can lead to future regenerative therapies, with relevance to cardiovascular and musculoskeletal injuries and diseases. My work to date, suggests that the composition, spatial organization, and mechanical properties of extracellular matrix microenvironments play a directive role in modulating cell phenotype and function. The scientific themes that frame my research program are the elucidation of novel biomechanical pathways that can be harnessed to enhance engineered vasculature, innervation, and function of cardiac and skeletal muscle, and complex multi-tissue composites using methods that range from nanopatterning of biomaterials and RNASeq, to modular immuno-physiologic culture systems and regenerative rehabilitation.

    My research background spans the fields of biomedical engineering, developmental and stem cell biology, and cardiovascular medicine, making multi-disciplinary research at the interface of these disciplines natural and primed for innovation. I have enjoyed research funding through the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), the NIH/NHLBI (T32 and F32 fellowships), and the American Heart Association. I recently received K99/R00 funding through the NIH/NHLBI and look forward to using this award to jumpstart my independent research career.

    I am eager to mentor undergraduates, graduate students, and postdocs from diverse backgrounds into critically thinking ambassadors of science, engineering, and medicine. I am excited to share my knowledge and passion for science and engineering with this next generation of talented young innovators and to be a positive force in promoting equity in education and diversity in STEM fields.