Cardiovascular Biomaterials Engineering and Translational Research

Cardiovascular pathologies, such as heart valve disease, atherosclerosis or myocardial insufficiency, are the leading reasons for mortality in industrialized parts of the world. Advanced disease stages require tissue repair or replacement by implants such as heart valve prostheses.

The Cardiovascular Biomaterials Engineering and Translational Research Group of the Department of Cardiovascular Surgery, headed by Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Alexander Assmann, has set its focus on the development, characterization and translational evaluation of naturally derived scaffolds for cardiovascular applications. In particular, our interdisciplinary research projects cover the following topics:

  • Optimization of decellularization regimens for cardiovascular scaffolds
  • Bio-Functionalization of cardiovascular grafts / Strategies for guided cellular population in vivo
  • Evaluation of the biocompatibility and in vivo degeneration of acellular heart valve and vessel implants in functional preclinical animal models
  • Investigation of the underlying mechanisms leading to the in vivo degeneration of heart valve and vessel prostheses

For further information, please contact


  • Priv.-Doz. Dr. med. Alexander Assmann
  • Agunda Chekhoeva, MD
  • cand. med. Caroline Lepke
  • Mahfuza Toshmatova, MD

Previous members: Hiroshi Munakata, MD, PhD; Dr. med. Christofer Delfs; cand. med. Kim Horstkötter; cand. med. Kai Zwirnmann; cand. med. Marc Struß; cand. med. Franziska Schiffer; cand. med. Friederike Heidelberg; Sentaro Nakanishi, MD; Vera Schmidt, M. sc.; Yukiharu Sugimura, MD


  • German Heart Foundation


  • 2016 Vascular Surgical Research Award (by the German Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery)
  • 2015 Edens Award for Heart and Circulatory Research (by the Eberhard Igler Foundation)
  • 2014 Ulrich Karsten Scientific Award (by the German Society for Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery)

Publications – Articles

  • Assmann A, Struß M, Schiffer F, Heidelberg F, Munakata H, Timchenko EV, Timchenko PE, Kaufmann T, Huynh K, Sugimura Y, Leidl Q, Pinto A, Stoldt VR, Lichtenberg A, Akhyari P. Improvement of the in vivo cellular repopulation of decellularized cardiovascular tissues by a detergent-free, non-proteolytic, actin-disassembling regimen. J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2016. [Accepted for publication].
  • Annabi N, Shin SR, Tamayol A, Miscuglio M, Afshar M, Assmann A, Mostafalu P, Sun JY, Mithieux S, Cheung L, Tang XS, Weiss AS, Khademhosseini A. Highly elastic and conductive human-based protein hybrid hydrogels. Adv Mater. 2016; 28(1):40-49.
  • Masoumi N, Annabi N, Assmann A, Larson BL, Hjortnaes J, Alemdar N, Kharaziha M, Manning KB, Mayer JE, Khademhosseini A. Tri-layered elastomeric scaffolds for engineering heart valve leaflets. Biomaterials. 2014; 35(27):7774-7785.
  • Assmann A, Akhyari P, Lichtenberg A. Dezellularisierte Aorten-Conduits und ihre Biokompatibilität - Optimierung in einem standardisierten Rattenmodell. Zeitschrift für Herz-,Thorax- und Gefäßchirurgie. 2014; 28:456-463. doi: 10.1007/s00398-014-1108-5.
  • Assmann A, Horstkötter K, Munakata H, Schiffer F, Delfs C, Zwirnmann K, Barth M, Akhyari P, Lichtenberg A. Simvastatin does not diminish the in vivo degeneration of decellularized aortic conduits. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2014; 64(4):332-342.
  • Assmann A, Zwirnmann K, Heidelberg F, Schiffer F, Horstkötter K, Munakata H, Gremse F, Barth M, Lichtenberg A, Akhyari P. The degeneration of biological cardiovascular prostheses under pro-calcific metabolic conditions in a small animal model. Biomaterials. 2014; 35(26):7416-7428.
  • Munakata H, Assmann A, Poudel-Bochmann B, Horstkötter K, Kamiya H, Okita Y, Lichtenberg A, Akhyari P. Aortic conduit valve-model with controlled moderate aortic regurgitation in rats: A technical modification to improve short- and long-term outcome and to increase the functional results. Circ J. 2013; 77(9):2295-2302.
  • Assmann A, Delfs C, Munakata H, Schiffer F, Horstkötter K, Huynh K, Barth M, Stoldt VR, Kamiya H, Boeken U, Lichtenberg A, Akhyari P. Acceleration of autologous in vivo recellularization of decellularized aortic conduits by fibronectin surface coating. Biomaterials. 2013; 34(25):6015-6026.
  • Assmann A, Akhyari P, Delfs C, Flögel U, Jacoby C, Kamiya H, Lichtenberg A. Development of a growing rat model for the in vivo assessment of engineered aortic conduits. J Surg Res. 2012; 176(2):367-375.

Publications – Presentations

  • TERMIS-WORLD Boston 2015
  • HVS Monaco 2015
  • TERMIS EU Genova 2014
  • DGTHG Freiburg 2014
  • DGTHG Freiburg 2013
  • AHA Los Angeles 2012
  • TERMIS-WORLD Vienna 2012
  • HVBT Mykonos 2012
  • SHVD New York 2012
  • DGTHG Freiburg 2012
  • TERMIS-EU Granada 2011
  • SHVD Barcelona 2011
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