Profile picture

Megan McCain

Chonette Early Career Chair and Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering


  • 2012, Doctoral Degree, Harvard University
  • 2006, Bachelor's Degree, Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis


Megan L. McCain earned her BS in Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis and her PhD in Engineering Sciences at Harvard University. As a graduate student, she engineered cardiac cells and tissues to investigate the role of mechanotransduction in cardiac development and disease. Megan continued as a post-doctoral researcher at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, where she engineered microscale, functional mimics of human cardiac tissues, known as “Heart on a Chip”. In 2014, Megan joined USC as the Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering. She also currently holds a joint appointment in the Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Her research group, the Laboratory for Living Systems Engineering, engineers and utilizes novel “Organ on Chip” platforms for human disease modeling and drug screening, with a focus on cardiac and skeletal muscle. Megan is a recipient of a Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association, and has been recognized as a Top Innovator Under 35 by MIT Technology Review and a Rising Star by the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering sub-group of the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Research Summary

To find cures for human diseases, we need reliable models of human tissue that can be used to dynamically monitor disease progression and test drugs with reasonable throughput. However, existing model systems, such as rodents and conventional cell culture platforms, fall short in recapitulating critical features of native human tissues, which limits their relevance. To address this need, the Laboratory for Living Systems Engineering fabricates micro-scale mimics of native human tissues that provide meaningful physiological outputs with scalability and reproducibility. We focus primarily on cardiac and skeletal muscle.

To fabricate these platforms, we focus on advancing and integrating three core technologies:
1. Establishing renewable sources of differentiated human cells
2. Engineering biomimetic cellular microenvironments
3. Developing tools to quantify the functions of engineered tissues

We combine these technologies towards three primary applications:
1. Establishing fundamental insight into human tissue structure-function relationships
2. Elucidating cellular mechanisms of human diseases
3. Developing novel platforms for pre-clinical drug screening


  • 2016 American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant
  • 2016 Biomedical Engineering Society - Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Rising Star Award
  • 2014 MIT Technology Review 35 Innovators Under 35 2014
  • 2014 Powell Foundation Powell Foundation Award
  • Assoc Chair, Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Alfred E. Mann Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • DRB 140
  • Corwin D. Denney Research Center
  • 1042 Downey Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089
  • USC Mail Code: 1111
Contact Information
  • (213) 821-0791