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Lizz Iffrig

Current Status: M4

Graduate Department: Biomedical Engineering

Previous Education: BS in Chemistry and Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology;  

Advisor(s): W. Robert Taylor, MD, PhD;

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA


powerlifting, painting, driving my kids to soccer, being better than Dwight Chambers in board games.


While it has been observed that men and women develop cardiovascular disease at different times in their lives and with different disease trajectories, the underlying cause remains poorly understood. Abdominal aortic aneurysms (AAA, a pathological dilation of aorta) in particular show a significantly higher predilection for men occurring in males at a rate of 4-5 to 1 compared with women. Mechanically, the disease is preceded by low and oscillatory shear in the aorta. The aberrant shear patterns result in vascular inflammation and cellular dysfunction leading to a weakening and subsequent out-pouching of the vessel wall. Therefore understanding both the hemodynamics and tissue mechanics in this region are important for determining the risk of disease development. This body of work will first uncover what differences exist in the hemodynamics in the abdominal aorta between men and women. Following this, three vascular properties will be explored to determine their contribution to control of hemodynamics: (1) geometry, (2) peripheral resistance, and (3)vascular compliance. We have hypothesized that the female aorta is protected from dangerous low and oscillatory conditions by one or all of these properties and would thus result in a lower incidence of disease in women.