Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
Postdoctoral Fellow

Megan L. McCain
School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Megan L. McCain, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University in the Disease Biophysics Group led by Professor Kevin Kit Parker, which is part of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. She began her research career while an undergraduate as a summer intern at Pfizer Inc., where she worked in the Worldwide Safety Sciences Department and contributed to improving high-throughput cardiac screening assays for drug development. She then continued her undergraduate research at Washington University in St. Louis, where she studied cardiac electrophysiology and structure function relationships of the conduction system in explanted human hearts. She also spent one summer as an intern at the National Institute of Aging, investigating methods to harness the immune system for novel cancer therapeutics. Megan completed her B.S. with high honors in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis in 2006, where she also served one year as the President of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. She then joined Harvard University as a PhD student in the laboratory of Professor Kevin Kit Parker. Megan's thesis, entitled "From Womb to Doom: Mechanical Regulation of Cardiac Tissue Assembly in Morphogenesis and Pathogenesis," was focused on determining relationship between the physical microenvironment, cardiac myocyte biomechanics, and tissue morphogenesis. She also spent one year of her thesis working with a collaborator at the University of Bern, Switzerland. Her work in cardiac tissue engineering has contributed to understanding mechanisms of cell-cell coupling in the heart, development of in vitro disease models, and utilizing myocytes as biological motors for soft robotics. Megan completed her PhD in May 2012 and is now continuing her work in the Disease Biophysics Group as a postdoctoral fellow. She is currently leading a team to develop "heart on a chip" at the Wyss Institute, where the aim is to combine cell biology, materials science, and microfabrication techniques to design and build an in vitro model of human cardiac tissue that links to other organ chips in a fluidic-based system. The ultimate goal is to accelerate pre-clinical drug screening by providing a cheaper, more predictive model of human drug responses in a disposable format. Megan is also dedicated to teaching and mentoring. As a PhD student, she earned the Derek Bok Certificate of Distinction in Teaching for her work as a teaching fellow for the Cellular Engineering course and recently mentored a summer student as part of the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program at Harvard.