Carla Lacerda is an assistant professor of chemical engineering. She earned her B.S. degree in food engineering from the Federal University of Viçosa, in Brazil, in 2002. She then went to Colorado State University to pursue her doctorate in chemical engineering. During her graduate work, she gained experience with proteomics technologies to elucidate mechanisms of metal resistance in microbial communities.
After completion of her Ph.D., Lacerda transitioned from environmental to biomedical science. Her postdoctoral work, also at CSU, encompassed the development of methods for tissue engineering, microscopy and laser microdissection of heart valve tissues, as well as proteomic characterization of valve disease.
Her most recent work, which she will continue at Texas Tech, involves the development of cell and organ culture in vitro models of valve disease. Lacerda is interested in understanding the effects of different mechanical stimuli on heart valves; specifically, the mechanical triggers of valve degeneration. Once these molecular pathways are known, it will be easier to develop new drugs to slow or reverse disease progression and to improve the design of tissue-engineered valves. In addition to heart valve mechanobiology, Lacerda's research program will also develop new techniques for tissue engineering. As the bioengineering core is strengthened at Texas Tech, Lacerda will implement new elective courses in tissue engineering and biomedical applications of chemical engineering concepts.