Cynthia Hajal

Assistant Professor,  Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Affiliated Faculty,  Bioengineering

Research Focus

Tissue engineering, microfluidics, cancer


Cynthia Hajal joined the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern University in August 2023. Her research interests are at the intersection of engineering and cancer biology, developing tissue engineered models of tumors to study cancer progression, drug delivery, and treatment resistance.

She received a BA in Economics and BS in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University and her SM and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. Her doctoral work focused on the design of microfluidic models of the vasculature to investigate cancer metastasis and molecular transport between blood and tissues. Prior to joining Northeastern University, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT where she investigated resistance mechanisms to chemotherapies in patient-derived glioma tumor models using functional genomic screens. She was selected as a Rising Star in Mechanical Engineering by MIT (2021) and was a Ludwig Molecular Oncology Graduate Fellow (2018-2019).


PhD, Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2021

SM, Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2018

BS/BA, Mechanical Engineering / Economics, Columbia University, 2016

Research Overview

Tissue engineering, microfluidics, cancer

Therapeutic Understanding through Microfluidic Organ-on-a-chip Research

The Therapeutic Understanding through Microfluidic Organ-on-chip Research (TUMOR) Lab specializes in the design of microfluidic, tissue-engineered models of vascularized tumors. Our focus lies in investigating the crucial role that the components and properties of the microenvironment play in cancer progression and drug delivery. Through an interdisciplinary approach combining engineering and biology, we aim to improve clinical outcomes for cancer patients. Our research is compartmentalized into three areas:

  1. Vascular fluid flows in the context of drug delivery to tumors.
  2. Tumor tissue properties in the context of cancer progression.
  3. Chemotherapy-induced alterations to the tumor vasculature and consequences on patient response to treatment.
Therapeutic Understanding through Microfluidic Organ-on-a-chip Research

Selected Publications

  • Ibrahim, L.I., Hajal, C., Offeddu, G.S., Gillrie, M.R., Kamm, R.D. Omentum-on-a-chip: A multicellular, vascular microfluidic model of the human peritoneum for the study of ovarian cancer metastases. Biomaterials (2022).
  • Straehla, J.P.*, Hajal, C.*, Safford, H.C., Offeddu, G.S., Boehnke, N., Dacoba, T.G., Wyckoff, J., Kamm, R.D., Hammond, P.T. A predictive microfluidic model of human glioblstoma to assess trafficking of blood-brain barrier penetrant nanoparticles. PNAS (2022).
  • Hajal, C.*, Offeddu, G.S.*, Shin, Y.*, Zhang, S., Morozova, O., Hickman, D., Knutson, C.G., Kamm, R.D. Engineered human blood-brain barrier microfluidic model for vascular permeability analyses. Nature Protocols (2022).
  • Akinbote A., Beltran Sastre V., Visone R., Hajal, C., Cobanaglu D., Haase, K. Classical and nonclassical fibrosis phenotypes are revealed by lung and cardiac specific microvessels on-chip. Frontiers in Physiology 1622 (2021).
  • Hajal, C.*, LeRoi B.*, Kamm, R.D., Maoz, B.M. Biology and models of the blood-brain barrier. Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering 23, 359-384 (2021).
Cynthia Hajal


Aug 18, 2023

New Faculty Spotlight: Cynthia Hajal

Cynthia Hajal joins the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering department in August 2023 as an Assistant Professor.

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