Skip to Content

Coronavirus: Get complete details about the university's response to COVID-19.

College of Engineering and Computing

Faculty and Staff

Susan M. Lessner

Title: Associate Professor, School of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering
Department: School of Medicine, Biomedical Engineering
College of Engineering and Computing
Phone: 803-216-3819
Fax: 803-216-3846

School of Medicine   
Bldg 1   
Room C-38   
6439 Garners Ferry Road   
Columbia, SC 29209

Susan Lessner

Experience and Education

Associate Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, 2013-present
Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, 2006-2013
Research Assistant Professor, Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of South Carolina School of Medicine, 2005-2006
Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University School of Medicine, Division of Cardiology, 2000-2003
PhD, Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2000
BSE, Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, 1983


Dr. Lessner’s work focuses on the vascular biology and biomechanics of atherosclerosis, with an emphasis on mechanical failure (plaque rupture) and intraplaque angiogenesis.  Atherosclerotic plaque rupture is a leading cause of acute cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.  Evidence suggests that plaque rupture results from an adverse interaction between biomechanical and biological factors.  Our research focuses on understanding the interplay between both these types of factors, in order to develop methods to reduce the incidence of plaque rupture.  On the biological side, we are particularly interested in intraplaque angiogenesis, or new blood vessel growth, as a destabilizing factor in plaque progression.  We use transgenic mouse models and human endarterectomy specimens to examine the relationships between mechanical loading environment, matrix organization, and mechano-sensitive gene expression.  On the biomechanics front, we study micromechanics of arterial tissue failure in plaque rupture and arterial dissection, and we aim to develop methods to identify patients at elevated risk of acute cardiovascular syndromes where material failure plays a major role. We use both experimental and computational approaches to understand artery wall failure mechanisms. I collaborate with faculty in Mechanical Engineering at USC, together with vascular surgeons at Greenville Hospital, Palmetto Health, and MUSC.

Selected Publications

 A. Sinha, A. Shaporev, N. Nosoudi, Y. Lei, A. Vertegel, S. Lessner, N. Vyavahare, “Nanoparticle targeting to diseased vasculature for imaging and therapy,” Nanomedicine, 10(5), 1003-1012 (2014).

 P. Badel, S. Avril, M. A. Sutton, and S. M. Lessner, “Numerical simulation of arterial dissection during balloon angioplasty of atherosclerotic coronary arteries,” J. Biomech., 47, 878-889 (2014).

 W. O. Twal, S. C. Klatt, K. Harikrishnan, E. Gerges, M. A. Cooley, T. C. Trusk, B. Zhou, M. G. Gabr, T. Shazly, S. M. Lessner, R. Markwald,  and  W. S. Argraves, “Cellularized microcarriers as adhesive building blocks for fabrication of tubular tissue constructs,” Ann. Biomed. Eng., 42(7), 1470-1481 (2014).

 H. R. Bateman, Q. Liang, D. Fan, V. Rodriguez, and S. M. Lessner, “Sparstolonin B inhibits pro-angiogenic functions and blocks cell cycle progression in endothelial cells,” PLoS ONE, 8(8), e70500 (2013).

 Y. Wang, J. A. Johnson, A. Fulp, M. A. Sutton, and S. M. Lessner, “Adhesive Strength of Atherosclerotic Plaque in a Mouse Model Depends on Local Collagen Content and Elastin Fragmentation,” J. Biomech., 46, 716–722 (2013).


BMEN 723/589V Anatomy and Physiology for Biomedical Engineers
MCBA D602 Medical Microscopic Anatomy

Honors and Awards

Rising Star Research Award, University of South Carolina, 2010
Centenary Assistant Professor award, University of South Carolina, 2005-2008
NRSA Ruth Kirschstein Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2001-2003


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.