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William Polacheck UNC

William J Polacheck - PI

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Member, Cell Biology and Physiology Curriculum, UNC Medicine

Member, McAllister Heart Institute, UNC Medicine

Bill was born in the Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania and first learned about Microfluidics while in Brian Kirby's lab at Cornell. He moved to Cambridge, MA to study Mechanical Engineering at M.I.T. as an NSF graduate research fellow under the guidance of Roger D. Kamm, then moved across the river to Boston to work as an NIH postdoctoral fellow at The Wyss Institute at Harvard University and at The Biological Design Center at Boston University. He worked under the guidance of Chistopher S. Chen where he developed biomimetic models for the blood vasculature to study endothelial cell mechanotransduction.


In 2018, Bill moved to Chapel Hill begin his appointment in the UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. 

Honors & Awards:

2008-2011 - National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship

2015-2016 - NIBIB T32 Fellowship, Organ Design and Engineering

2016-2018 - Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award

2018 - Wallace H. Coulter Translational Partnership Award for translational research

2021 - American Heart Association Career Development Award

2021-2026 - NIGMS Maximizing Investigator's Research Award


9206B Mary Ellen Jones

116 Manning Drive

Chapel Hill, NC 27514-7575

Polacheck CV


Wen Yih Aw, PhD

Research Assistant Professor in BME, UNC

  • B.S., Molecular Biosciences, University of Kansas, 2011

  • Ph.D., Molecular Biology, Princeton University, 2018

Wen recently completed a Postdoc at the UNC Catalyst for Rare Disease. She is our lab's molecular biology expert and is working to understand the role of Notch receptor signaling in mechanotransduction. 


Mitesh Rathod, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow in BME, UNC

  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Mumbai University, 2008

  • M.S., Mechanical Engineering Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, 2011

  • Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Seoul National University, 2019

Mitesh recently completed his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Seoul National University, Republic of Korea. He is a master at computational fluid dynamics and in the clean room. He's working on organ-on-chip models to understand the role of hemodynamics in chronic kidney disease. 


Elizabeth Doherty (Snyder-Mounts)

PhD Candidate in BME, UNC

  • B.S.E., Biomedical Engineering, Duke University, 2019

  • NIH NHLBI T32 Training Fellow, Integrative Vascular Biology, 2020-2022

  • NIH F31 Individual Predoctoral Fellowship, 2022-Present

Elizabeth graduated in 2019 with a BSE in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University, where her research focused on investigating the use of induced pluripotent stem cells for disease modeling using tissue engineered blood vessels. Her current research focuses on fabricating and optimizing microfluidic devices for vascular disease modeling in conjunction with the Rare Disease Catalyst. Outside of lab, Elizabeth enjoys being active, playing board games, and watching college basketball with friends.


Chloe Whitworth

PhD Candidate in Genetics and Molecular Biology, UNC

  • B.S., Biological Sciences, University of Alabama - Huntsville, 2015

Chloe graduated in 2015 and spent the next several years working in biotechnology for G1 Therapeutics and Cell Microsystems. She is co-advised by Dr. Victoria Bautch, and she is working to understand how cells sense and communicate hemodynamic signals within the vascular endothelium. She is particularly interested in the Notch pathway, and the activation of Notch family receptors in response to mechanical forces.


Sarah Kubik

PhD Candidate in BME, NCSU

  • B.S., Biomedical Engineering, UNC/NCSU, 2020

  • NIH T32 Training Fellow, Comparative Molecular Medicine, 2022-present

Sarah is a resident maker expert, working on microfabrication, 3D printing, and multi-mode fabrication techniques to engineer functional vasculature. She joined the lab in 2021 as a technician and artist. Outside of lab, Sarah is active in 3D printing, crafting, and aquarium building - all highly relevant hobbies to her research. 


Ryan Stack

PhD Candidate in BME, UNC

  • B.S., Biomedical Engineering, University of Connecticut, 2020

  • M.S., Biomedical Engineering, University of Connecticut, 2022

Ryan spent time in industry before joining the lab to pursue the development of translational organs-on-chip. He is our biomaterial and bioprinting expert, and in his short time so far in the lab has made great strides toward bio printing extracellular matrix synthesized from human donor cells. We do not hold his split UNC/UConn basketball fandom against him.  


Raymond Piatt

Research Associate in BME, UNC

  • B.S., Biology, UNC, 2012

Ray joined the lab to lead efforts in developing next generation models of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Having spent time as a research technician in the Bergmeier Lab then as a senior research associate at Dignify Therapeutics, Ray is our resident expert on the blood side of things. He also makes the best beef Wellington in the state of North Carolina.  


Aanya Sawhney

Research Technician in BME, UNC

  • B.S., Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Tech, 2023

Aanya joined our lab with significant research experience at Georgia Tech. She is the lab's microfabrication expert, and well on her way to being the overall microfluidics expert. If it's smaller than a millimeter, she can make it.


Abel Abraham

Undergraduate Researcher

  • 2023 Abrams Scholar

  • 2024 Henderson Award

Abel is co-advised by Prof. Pedro Saenz in the Department of Applied Mathematics at UNC. He is working to understand the physical basis of collective cell interactions, and he advises on mathematical approaches for a better understanding of nearly every project in the lab.


Alexandra Patton

Undergraduate Researcher

  • Abrams Scholar, UNC BME

Alex is the material characterization expert. She can measure the elastic and viscoelastic properties of nearly everything, with particular expertise in rheometry. She is applying her technical skills to the characterization of extracellular matrix synthesized from cells of patients with vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.


Madeline Singletary

Undergraduate Researcher


Madeline joined the lab with previous research experience in NMR and UV-Vis spectroscopy. She is working on developing protocols and parameters to generate high cell viability and high resolution for cell-laden DLP bioprinted GelMA constructs, and plans to explore the applications of these cell laden extracellular matrices.

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