Associate Professor

Sara Vasconcelos

Institute of Biomedical Engineering


Toronto General Hospital: University Health Network (UHN)
101 College St., Rm 3-904, Toronto, Ontario Canada M5G 1L7
Research Interests
Cardiovascular, Molecular & Cell Biology
Appointment Status
Accepting MSc students, Accepting PhD students

Dr. Vasconcelos received a PhD. degree from the Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro in 2006 followed by postdoctoral training at the University of Louisville, USA and University of Toronto.

She was recuited to the Toronto General Hospital Research Institute in 2012 where she currently is an Assitant Scientist.

Her main appointment with University of Toronto is with the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering.

Research Synopsis

Our research focuses on utilizing and developing tissue engineering approaches to address cardiovascular problems.

Motivated by the need to generate alternative therapeutic avenues to treat cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, I am interested in: 

  1. the development of vascularization strategies in combination with human stem cells for regenerative medicine;
  2. the generation of complex, vascularized human tissues in vitro for cell biology studies and drug screening purposes; 
  3. understanding the nature and mechanistic basis of vessel maturation during adult neovascularization;
  4. the coupled development of cardiomyocytes and vasculature, and; 
  5. promoting human stem cell-derived cardiomyocyte maturation through biomimetic approaches.

Our long-term goal is to develop innovative tools for regenerative medicine applications. Strategies include: transgenic animal models, stem cells, cell culture and bioengineering approaches.

Selected Publications

Nunes SS (co-corresponding author), Miklas JC, Feric N, Pahnke A, Li M, Coles J, Gagliardi M, Keller G and Radisic M. Human stem cell-derived cardiac model of chronic drug exposure”. ACS Biomaterials Science  & Engineering. April 2016. In press.

Zhang B, Montgomery M, Chamberlain D, Wells LA, Nunes SS, Nanthakumar K, Sefton MV and Radisic M. “AngioChip: a biodegradable scaffold with built-in vasculature for organ-on-a-chip engineering and direct surgical anastomosis”. Nature Materials. Mar 2016. 1-10.

Sun X, Evren S and Nunes SS (corresponding author). “Blood vessel maturation in health and disease and its implications for vascularization of engineered tissues”. Critical Reviews in Biomedical Engineering. In press.

Sun, X and Nunes SS (corresponding author). Biowire platform for maturation of human pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Methods. May 2016. (101)21-26.

Sun, X, Altalhi W and Nunes SS (corresponding author). “Vascularization strategies of engineered tissues and their application in cardiac regeneration”. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews special issue: Tissue engineering of the heart: from in vitro models to regenerative solutions (Invited). Jan 2016. 96:183-194.

Sun, X and Nunes SS (corresponding author). “Overview of hydrogel-based strategies for application in cardiac tissue regeneration”. Biomedical Materials. June 2015. 10 (3): 034005.

Miklas JW, Nunes SS, Sofla A and Radisic M. "Bioreactor for modulation of cardiac microtissue phenotype by combined mechanical and electrical stimulation”. Biofabrication. Special issue: Micro and nano materials for tissue engineering. 2014, 6(2):024113.

Nunes SS (corresponding author), Miklas JW and Radisic M. "Maturation of stem cell-derived human heart tissue by mimicking fetal heart rate”. Editorial, Future Cardiology. Nov 2013. 9(6):751-754.

Nunes SS, Miklas JW, Liu J, Aschar-Sobi R, Xiao Y, Zhang B, Jiang J, Masse S, Gagliardi M, Hsieh A, Thanvadiran N, Laflamme MA, Nanthakumar K, Gross G, Backx P, Keller G and Radisic M. "Biowire: a platform for maturation of human pluripotent stem cell derived cardiomyocytes". Nature Methods. Aug 2013. 10:781-787.

Miklas JM, Nunes SS, Radisic M. “Engineering cardiac tissues from pluripotent stem cells for drug screening and studies of cell maturation”. Invited review by the Israel Journal of Chemistry – New Biomaterials honoring the 2013 Wolf Prize to Robert Langer. Oct 2013. (53) 680-694.

Nunes SS, Maijub JG, Krishnan L, Ramakrishnan VM, Clayton LR, Williams SK, Hoying, JB and Boyd NL. "Generation of a functional liver tissue mimic using adipose stromal vascular fraction cell-derived vasculatures". Scientific Reports. Jul 2013. 3:2141.