Name: Joanna Nowacka

Host Organisation: Miltenyi Biotec

Project Title: Development of a microfluidic-based heart-on-a-chip model as a device for modelling cellular therapy approaches

The subproject will be carried out at Miltenyi Biotec over a period of 36 months in the cardiovascular research group headed by Dr. Dominik Eckardt, which develops products and processes for pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiovascular cells and organoids.
We will develop and characterize a novel in vitro model enabling functional evaluation of cellular therapy products. The main working tasks of the advertised subproject are:

  1. Development of standardized protocols for the generation of heart microtissue
  2. Development of a microfluidic-based heart-on-chip model allowing for non-invasive evaluation of cellular function
  3. Evaluation of methods for transplanting cardiomyocytes to the heart-on-chip model and non-invasive monitoring of transplant integrity and function

PhD thesis will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Katja Schenke-Layland and Jun.-Prof. Dr. Peter Loskill from Tübingen University.

Secondments are planned as follows:

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, Germany; for 3 months
  • Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands; for 3 months

I defended my Bachelor and Master degree in biotechnology at University of Warsaw, where I specialized myself toward Stem Cells in Biology and Medicine. For my Bachelor and Master thesis I was focusing with Pax 7 as a transcription and myogenic factor that regulates the cell cycle exit during myogenic differentiation. My work was published in Cell Cycle in 2016 2 and I defended my Master thesis with the highest honor in 2017.

My successful Bachelor thesis allows me to participate in another cell cycle related project at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. In Prof. Sicinski lab I designed and cloned CRISPR/Cas 9 genetic construct to regulate the level of Cdc7 protein by auxin controlled degradation in mammalian cells  without changing its expression pattern. After one year I came back to USA owing to Fulbright Commission. As a graduate student at University of Virginia in Charlottesville I carried out my own project focusing on Ptk7 as a protein involved in cells polarization and their “perception” of direction during mice development.

Today, I’m working as a PhD student at Miltenyi Biotec developing a new “heart-on-a-chip” model.