A significant limitation in our ability to study congenital heart valve disease and defects is due to lack of appropriate animal models and also in part to our incomplete understanding of biomechanical properties of the leaflet tissues. Biomechanical changes in leaflets as they develop and throughout a person’s lifetime are not well understood. With improved understanding of such changes, more intuitive approaches could be used to develop tissue engineered heart valves. Each year in the United States, over 20,000 children are born with congenital heart defects; many requiring valve replacement surgery [1–2]. Additionally, over 300,000 people worldwide require heart valve replacement surgery each year [3–4]. The creation of better valve replacements would improve treatment and quality of patient life.

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