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Naturally Inspired


Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioinspired Engineering, and colleagues are studying the properties of the zebrafish embryonic heart to address problems as diverse as ringing in the ears and overheated electronics. They have also developed the first pump built entirely from biological building blocks. “We can actually be more clever than nature,” Gharib says. “We can get inspired by nature and use engineering to come up with better functions. Just look at 747s—they fly from LAX to La Guardia much more efficiently than any bird could.” [E&S Article]

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Professor Gharib Named Vice Provost


Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bio-Inspired Engineering, is the new Vice Provost with a special focus on research. Professor Gharib has made contributions to a wide array of research topics ranging from the fundamental analysis of biological flows, to the development of bio-inspired medical devices, to advanced flow visualization techniques. One of his more unusual studies was his work with a SURF student several years ago where they raised a 30000-pound obelisk into place using a single kite and speculated that the ancient Egyptians may have moved the massive stones from which the pyramids were built and raised obelisks by flying them into place! His breadth, technical strength, and enthusiasm will serve him and Caltech well as he takes on the role of Vice Provost. [Caltech Today Article]

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Morteza Gharib and Abbas Nasiraei Moghaddam Show Function of Helical Band in Heart


Using an MRI technique, Morteza Gharib, Hans W. Liepmann Professor of Aeronautics and Professor of Bioengineering, and his colleague Abbas Nasiraei Moghaddam, a Caltech graduate and visitor in Bioengineering, were able to create some of the first dynamic images of normal heart muscle in action at the tissue level. They showed that a muscular band--which wraps around the inner chambers of the heart in a helix--is actually a sort of twisting highway along which each contraction of the heart travels. "We tagged and traced small tissue elements in the heart, and looked at them in space, so we could see how they moved when the heart contracts," Gharib explains. "In this way, we were able to see where the maximum physical contraction occurs in the heart and when--and to show that it follows this intriguing helical loop." [Caltech Press Release]

Tags: research highlights GALCIT MedE health Morteza Gharib