Michael S. Sacks

Michael S. Sacks

ICES and the Department of Biomedical Engineering, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin TX.

Title: Simulation of the aortic heart valve


Professor Michael Sacks is the W. A. “Tex” Moncrief, Jr. Simulation-Based Engineering Science Chair and a world authority on cardiovascular biomechanics. His research focuses on the quantification and modeling of the structure-mechanical properties of native and engineered cardiovascular soft tissues. He is a leading international authority on the mechanical behavior and function of the native and replacement heart valves. He is also active in the biomechanics of engineered tissues, and in understanding the in-vitro and in-vivo remodeling processes from a functional biomechanical perspective. Dr. Sacks is currently director of the ICES Center for Cardiovascular Simulation and Professor of Biomedical Engineering


The analysis of aortic valve mechanics has been extensively conduced in silico through computational simulations with the aid of the finite element method. Although most studies have initially been conducted with simplified geometries and basic material models, and sometimes, with idealized physical settings, finite element modeling studies have been able to guide design and manufacturing techniques with relative success. Simply by changing leaflet shapes, the stress distribution pattern acting on the leaflets is altered. Even from a purely mechanical standpoint, computational simulations of functioning heart valves are not at all trivial.  The realistic geometry of the aortic heart valve is quite complex, and in particular, leaflets are very. Moreover, while the unpressurized geometry of an aortic heart valve can be characterized on the bench, translation to the in-vivo state is hampered by a lack of knowledge of the in-vivo pre-strain state. Most importantly, segmentation of medical images is difficult to conduct for such thin and complex structures, which presents challenges for patient-specific modeling. We present our comprehensive approaches to modeling the aortic valve to both understand normal heart valve function, insights into disease processes, and to inform methods of repair and replacement.