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Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, MD, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Alabama at Birmingham, delivers an insightful overview of his extensive education, work, and research in cardiac tissue engineering and heart-related issues in general.

Dr. Zhang is an internationally recognized leader in myocardial bioenergetics, biomaterials, and stem cells for use in cardiac repair. Dr. Zhang is a tenured Professor of Medicine and of Engineering. He is the T. Michael and Gillian Goodrich Endowed Chair of Engineering Leadership, as well as the aforementioned Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Zhang talks about his background and research interests, which include, cardiac tissue engineering, NMR imaging, and heart failure. Dr. Zhang explains that myocardial bioenergetics pertains to how energy is produced in the mitochondria, transported, and utilized to generate force to pump blood. Dr. Zhang explains how the processes work, and some of the reasons why hearts fail to pump properly.

The research doctor explains the energy metabolism reserve as it relates to dysfunction. He talks energy production in detail as he explains how the mitochondria can utilize glucose, fatty acid, and literally anything available. Dr. Zhang states that researchers are getting closer each day to understanding some of the complex problems of the heart, getting closer to being able to alter pathways—to utilize as a therapy method to prevent heart failure altogether or at least delay its occurrence.

Dr. Zhang talks about the structure of the heart and its various components. He explains the use of gene therapy in their work, and discusses the current work and research regarding the use of patches that could possibly cure debilitating heart failure.

Dr. Zhang earned his MD from Shanghai Medical University in the early 80s, and went on to earn a PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Minnesota in 1992. In addition, Dr. Zhang holds a master of science in engineering as well as a certificate of business administration from the prestigious Tufts University in Massachusetts. Dr. Zhang completed his post-doc work at the University of Minnesota in the Cardiovascular Division.

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