Natacha DePaola

  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Director IDMET (Illinois Tech Digital Medical Engineering and Technology Research and Education Center)
  • Director 3DEXPERIENCE Education Center of Excellence in the Life Sciences


Post Doctoral from Columbia University (Chemical Engineering, 1992)
Ph.D. from Harvard-MIT (Medical Engineering/Medical Physics, 1991)
M.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Mechanical Engineering, 1987)
B.S. from Simon Bolivar University, Caracas-Venezuela, (Mechanical Engineering, 1984)

Research Interests

DePaola’s research investigates the role of physical mechanisms on cellular behavior emphasizing its importance in the understanding of human disease, the development of new therapies, and the engineering of functional tissues. A major emphasis of her research is on hemodynamic regulation of vascular cell function in early atherosclerosis, gap junctional intercellular communication, and biophysical regulation of mammalian cell function with applications to vascular, bone and neural tissue engineering.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)
  • American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)
  • American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE)
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
  • Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
  • Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) Executive Committee 2015-2016
  • Chair of Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC) - 2017-2019
  • Society of Women Engineers (SWE)
  • Tau Beta Pi and Sigma Xi


  • 2012 IEEE Woman in Engineering Award
  • 2009 Woman of Achievement Award, Holland & Knight LLP.
  • Carol and Ed Kaplan Endowed Chair Professorship
  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE). ). Citation: "For pioneering work investigating the role of altered hemodynamics in the regulation of endothelial cell functions relevant to atherosclerosis"
  • Appointed Member 2007-2010, Strategic Initiatives Committee of the Harvard-MIT Health Science and Technology (HST) Advisory Council
  • Faculty Member of the Institute for Medicine and Engineering, University of Pennsylvania (1998-2007).
  • US Delegate to the 5th Japan-USA-Singapore-China Conference on Biomechanics. Sendai, Japan (1998).
  • Frontiers Alumna, US National Academy of Engineering, Frontiers of Engineering (1997)
  • NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award (1996)


Selected Publications

  1. Vascular endothelium responds to fluid shear stress gradients
    Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, Vol. 12: 1254-1257 (1992). N DePaola, M.A. Gimbrone Jr, P.F. Davies, and C.F. Dewey Jr.
    Cited by 389 All 4 versions 
  2. Spatial relationships in early signaling events of flow-mediated endothelial mechanotransduction Annual Review of Physiology, Vol. 59: 527-549 (1997). P.F. Davies, K.A. Barbee, M.V. Volin, A. Robotewskyj, J. Chen, L. Joshep, M.L. Griem, M.N. Wernick, E. Jacobs, D.C. Polacek, N. DePaola, and A.I. Barakat.
    Cited by 282 All 5 versions 
  3. Spatial and temporal regulation of gap junction connexin43 in vascular endothelial cells exposed to controlled disturbed flows in vitro
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 96(6): 3154-3159 (1999). N. DePaola, P.F. Davies, W.F. Pritchard, L Florez, N. Harbeck, and D.C. Polacek.
    Cited by 210 All 8 versions 
  4. A spatial approach to transcriptional profiling: mechanotransduction and the focal origin of atherosclerosis
    Trends in Biotechbology, Vol. 17, Issue 9: 347-351 (1999). P.F. Davies, D.C. Polacek, J. Handen, B.P. Helmke, and N. DePaola.
    Cited by 73 All 5 versions 
  5. Spatial variations in endothelial barrier function in disturbed flows in vitro
    American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, Vol. 278: H469-H476 (2000). J.E. Phelps, N. DePaola.
    Cited by 94 All 5 versions
  6. Hemodynamics and the focal origin of atherosclerosis
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Vol. 947: 7-17 (2001). P.F. Davies, C. Shi, N. DePaola, B. Helmke, and D.C. Polacek.
    Cited by 112 All 3 versions
  7. Electrical impedance of cultured endothelium under fluid flow
    Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Vol. 29, Issue 8: 648-656 (2001). N. DePaola, J.E. Phelps, L. Florez, C.R. Keese, F.L. Minnear, I. Giaever, and P. Vincent.
    Cited by 61 All 7 versions
  8. Shear stress-mediated cytoskeletal remodeling and cortactin translocation in pulmonary endothelial cells
    American Journal of Respiratory Cell and Molecular Biology, Vol. 26(4) 453-464 (2002). K.G. Birukov, A.A. Birukova, S.M. Dudek, A.D. Verin, M.T. Crow, X. Zhan, N. DePaola, and J.G.N. Garcia.
    Cited by 151 All 6 versions
  9. Recruitment of endothelial caveolae into mechanotransduction pathways by flow conditioning in vitro
    American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, Vol. 285: H1720-H1729 (2003). V. Rizzo, C. Morton, N. DePaola, J.E. Schnitzer, and P.F. Davies.
    Cited by 141 All 5 versions
  10. Flow-conditioned HUVECs support clustered leukocyte adhesion by coexpressing ICAM-1 and E-selectin
    American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, Vol. 288: H194-H204 (2005). M.P. Burns and N. DePaola.
    Cited by 46 All 5 versions
  11. Differential effects of shear stress and cyclic stretch on focal adhesion remodeling, site-specific FAK phosphorylation, and small GTPases in human lung endothelial cells
    Experimental Cell Research, Volume 304, Issue 1: 40-49 (2005) Y. Shikata, A. Rios, K. Kawkitinarong, N. DePaola, J.G.N. Garcia, K.G. Birukov.
    Cited by 127 All 7 versions
  12. Flow Regulates Intercellular Communication in HAEC by Assembling Functional CX40 and CX37 Gap Junctional Channels 
    American Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology, Vol. 290: H2015-H2023 (2005) E.E. Ebong, S. Kim, and N. DePaola.
    Cited by 25 All 6 versions

Most Recent Publications

  1. Generation of Cell-Derived Three Dimensional Extracellular Matrix Substrates from Two Dimensional Endothelial Cell Cultures
    Tissue Engineering Part C; Methods, Vol. 17, Issue 5: 589-595 (2011). C.M. Zwolinski, K.S. Ellison, N. DePaola, and D.M. Thompson.
    Cited by 3 All 3 versions
  2. Specificity in the Participation of Connexin Proteins in Flow-Induced Endothelial Gap Junctions Communication
    Pflugers Archiv - European Journal of Physiology, Vol. 465: 1293-1302 (2013). E.E. Ebong and N. DePaola
    Cited by 25 All 6 versions
  3. Fluid Biomechanics and Circulation
    Invited Book Chapter, in Biomechanics (Eds. Manuel Doblare, Jose Merodio and Jose Ma Goicolea Ruigomez), in UNESCO Encyclopedia, (Epub on EOLSS online ahead of print, Eolss Publishers, Paris, France,, (2014). N. DePaola and M. Burns
  4. Neural progenitor cells exhibit differential behavior on extracellular matrix produced by dynamically-stimulated endothelial cells
    Stem Cells and Development, (in print). K.S. Ellison, C. Zwolinski, M.R. Newman, E. Kokavay, S. Goderie, S. Temple, N. DePaola, and D.M. Thompson.


  • N. DePaola and A.G. Ostrogorsky, “Diamagnetic force field bioreactor, U.S Patent, U.S. Pat. No. 7,482,154 (2009).
  • D. Polacek, A. Ostrogorsky and N. DePaola, “Automatic Cooling Device and Method for Humans.” U.S. Application Serial No. 11/675,719 (Pending).
  • N. DePaola and D. Polacek, “Methods of Establishing Intercellular Communication in an Endothelial Cell Layer and Uses Thereof”, 2006. International No. PCT/US2004/032577.
  • N. DePaola, “ECIS/Flow System Instruction Manual: Apparatus Operation and Experimental Procedures”, Technical Report (25 pages). US Copyright Office Registration Number TX-701-386, 2004.
Natacha DePaola

Contact Information

312.567.3657 312.567.5770 3255 S. Dearborn St. Wishnick Hall 314, Chicago, IL 60616 USA

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