Assistant Professor of Mathematics
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
May 15, 2012
Scaling effects in biological pumping: Tubular and growing hearts
The morphology, muscle mechanics, fluid dynamics, conduction properties, and molecular biology of the developing embryonic heart have received much attention in recent years due to the importance of both fluid and elastic forces in shaping the heart as well as the striking relationship between the heart’s evolution and development. Although few studies have directly addressed the connection between fluid dynamics and heart development, a number of studies suggest that fluids may play a key role in morphogenic signaling. In this presentation, the fluid dynamics of the early stages of heart development is reviewed. The heart first forms as a valveless tube that drives the flow of blood through either a peristaltic or an impedance pumping mechanism. These mechanisms are compared at relevant Reynolds numbers using numerical and dynamically scaled physical models. Results indicate that neither mechanism is entirely accurate in predicting the resulting flow patterns and contraction dynamics. An alternative model that considers the complete electromechanical system is presented.