Nenad Bursac, Associate Professor  

Nenad Bursac

Bursac's research interests include adult and embryonic stem cell therapies for heart and muscle disease. Cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue engineering. Cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmias. Genetic modifications of stem and somatic cells. Micropatterning of proteins and hydrogels.

The focus of my research is application of stem cells and tissue engineering methodologies in experimental in vitro studies and cell and tissue replacement therapies. Micropatterning of extracellular matrix proteins or protein hydrogels and engineering of synthetic scaffolds are used to build stem cell-derived cardiac and skeletal muscle tissues that replicate the structure-function relationships present in healthy and diseased muscle. These systems are used to separate and systematically study the roles of structural and genetic factors that contribute cardiac and skeletal muscle function and disease at multiple organizational levels (from single cell to 3-dimensional tissue). Optical recordings with voltage and calcium sensitive dyes in synthetic tissues allow us to analyze and optimize normal electrical function as well as study complicated spatio-temporal changes in electrical activity encountered in cardiac arrhythmias and fibrillation. Contractile force measurements allow us to explore factors that would optimize mechanical function of engineered tissues. Examples of the current research projects include: 1) design of co-cultures made of cardiac and different types of stem cells to model and study cell and tissue therapies for cardiac infarction and arrhythmias, 2) local and global gene manipulation in cultures of cardiac and other cell types, 3) engineering of vascularized cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue constructs with controllable structure and function, 4) implantation of stem cell-derived cardiac tissue patches in animal models of cardiac infarction, and 5) design of synthetic excitable tissues for experimental studies and novel cell therapies.

Contact Info:
Office Location:  1141 CIEMAS
Office Phone:  (919) 660-5510
Email Address:   send me a message
Web Page:


PhD, Boston University, 2000
BSE, University of Belgrade, 1994
Research Interests: stem cells heart disease

Bursac's research interests include embryonic and adult stem cell therapies for heart and muscle disease. Cardiac and skeletal muscle tissue engineering. Cardiac electrophysiology and arrhythmias. Genetic modifications of stem and somatic cells. Micropatterning of proteins and hydrogels.

Areas of Interest:

Stem cell therapies for heart disease
Tissue engineering/regenerative medicine
Cardiac electrophysiology/arrhythmias
Micropatterning and microfluidics
In vitro model systems
Skeletal muscle function


Tissue Repair, Tissue Engineering
Heart, Electrophysiology
Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellowship, Johns Hopkins University, Biomedical Engineering, 2000-2002
Honorably Mentioned Finalist, National Association for Sport & Physical Education, 2002
Merit Award, Biomedical Engineering Society, 2002
Postdoctoral Fellowship, American Heart Association, 2000-2002
Scientist Development Grant, American Heart Association, 2005-2008
Trainee Abstract Grant, American Heart Association, 2002
Teaching (Spring 2015):

  • BME 301L.001, BIOELECTRICITY Synopsis
    CIEMAS 1464, WF 10:05 AM-11:20 AM
  • BME 301L.01L, BIOELECTRICITY Synopsis
    CIEMAS 1392, M 01:25 PM-04:25 PM
  • BME 301L.02L, BIOELECTRICITY Synopsis
    CIEMAS 1392, M 04:40 PM-07:40 PM
Teaching (Fall 2015):

    TBA, MW 10:05 AM-11:20 AM
Recent Publications   (More Publications)   (search)

  1. D. M. Pedrotty and R. Y. Klinger and R. D. Kirkton and N. Bursac, Cardiac fibroblast paracrine factors alter impulse conduction and ion channel expression of neonatal rat cardiomyocytes, Cardiovascular Research, vol. 83 no. 4 (September, 2009), pp. 688 -- 697  [abs].
  2. L. C. Mcspadden and R. D. Kirkton and N. Bursac, Electrotonic loading of anisotropic cardiac monolayers by unexcitable cells depends on connexin type and expression level, American Journal Of Physiology-cell Physiology, vol. 297 no. 2 (August, 2009), pp. C339 -- C351  [abs].
  3. N. Badie and N. Bursac, Novel Micropatterned Cardiac Cell Cultures with Realistic Ventricular Microstructure, Biophysical Journal, vol. 96 no. 9 (May, 2009), pp. 3873 -- 3885  [abs].
  4. W. N. Bian and N. Bursac, Engineered skeletal muscle tissue networks with controllable architecture, Biomaterials, vol. 30 no. 7 (March, 2009), pp. 1401 -- 1412  [abs].
  5. N. Badle and N. Bursac, Micropatterned Ventricular Slice: Role of Realistic Tissue Microstructure In Impulse Conduction, Circulation, vol. 118 no. 18 (October, 2008), pp. S493 -- S493 .
Postdocs Mentored

  • Lisa Satterwhite (September 01, 2007 - present)  
  • Joseph Tranquillo (August 01, 2004 - August 1, 2005)