Dr. Abigail Koppes, Principal Investigator

Kirstie Belanger

Investigating Autonomic Nervous System Control of Cardiac Tissues

Currently the role of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in development, healthy function, and diseased states of the heart is not fully understood. Research capabilities are limited, since few benchtop models exist to capture and subsequently elucidate this relationship. Kirstie’s project aims to determine the ANS’s impact by developing a robust neuro-cardiac micro-physiological system incorporating both the sympathetic and parasympathetic portions of the ANS. This work could further understanding into optimal treatment and prevention strategies for heart attacks and related diseases.

Kirstie joined ABNEL in the Fall of 2019 as a Biological Engineering PhD student after graduating from the University of Maine with a BS in Biomedical Engineering. Prior to starting at Northeastern University, Kirstie completed three internships and worked in two labs during her undergraduate career. Her first internship was at Instrumentation Laboratory as a Systems Engineering Intern working to improve hemostasis instrument software and fluidic systems. Her second and third internships were at Envirologix as an R&D Intern and focused on immunoassay development and image processing to design high-sensitivity GMO and mycotoxin tests for crops. At the University of Maine, Kirstie worked in an organic chemistry lab synthesizing nanocellulose-based hydrogels and a neuroscience lab preparing tissue samples and completing fluorescent imaging to study the relationship between obesity and nerve damage. The combination of these two projects contributed to her interest in tissue engineering research.

B.S. Biomedical Engineering
University of Maine ’18
Orono, ME