Cassandra Happe, PhD

Commercial Translation Architect

Collaborates with academic and clinical teams to identify and advance regenerative cell and tissue therapies

Education and Experience

Cassi is a multidisciplinary scientist with over ten years of experience in stem cell assays and biomaterial development. She earned her PhD in Bioengineering from Pitt, where she developed a patented electroactive material that improves neural interfacing technologies for neural prosthethics, drug delivery and neurochemical detection. Following her graduate work, Cassi completed a four-year postdoctoral fellowship in Bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego. During that time, she spearheaded several cross-departmental research collaborations to improve in vitro neuromuscular and cardiac disease models for drug discovery applications. After returning to her hometown, Pittsburgh, Cassi joined the sciVelo team to lead sciVelo’s efforts translating groundbreaking regenerative cell and tissue therapies towards clinical use in collaboration with Pitt researchers and UPMC clinicians.


PhD, Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, 2014
BA, Biology, Boston University, 2005

Research Experience

Postdoctoral Research, Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego
Advisor: Adam Engler, PhD
  • Happe, C. L., Tenerelli, K. P., Gromova, A. K., Kolb, F. and Engler, A. J. Mechanically patterned neuromuscular junctions-in-a-dish have improved functional maturation. Mol. Biol. Cell. 28(14):1950-1958, 2017.
  • Happe, C. L. and Engler, A. J. Mechanical forces reshape differentiation cues that guide cardiomyogenesis. Circ. Res. 118(2): 296-310, 2016.
Graduate Research, Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh
Advisor: X. Tracy Cui, PhD
  • Taylor, I. M., Robbins, E. M., Catt, K. A., Cody, P. A., Happe, C. L. and Cui, X. T. Enhanced dopamine detection sensitivity by PEDOT/graphene oxide coating on in vivo carbon fiber electrodes. Biosens. Bioelectron. 89(1):400-410, 2017.
  • Weaver, C. L., Cui, X. T. Directed neural stem cell differentiation with a functionalized graphene oxide nanocomposite. Adv. Healthcare Mater. 4(9): 1408-1416, 2015.
  • Du, Z., Luo, X., Weaver, C. L. and Cui, X. T. Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiphene)-ionic liquid coating improves neural recording and stimulation functionality of MEAs. J. Mater. Chem. C 3(25): 6515-6524, 2015.
  • Weaver, C. L., Li, H., Luo, X. and Cui, X. T. A graphene oxide/conducting polymer nanocomposite for electrochemical dopamine detection: Origin of improved sensitivity and specificity. J. Mater. Chem. B 2(32): 5209-5219, 2014.
  • Weaver, C. L., LaRosa, J. M., Luo, X. and Cui, X. T. Electrically controlled drug delivery from graphene oxide nanocomposite films. ACS Nano 8(2): 1834-1843, 2014.
  • Luo X.*, Weaver, C. L.*, Tan, S. and Cui, X. T. Pure graphene oxide doped conducting polymer nanocomposite for bio-interfacing. J. Mater. Chem. B 1(9): 1340-1348, 2013. *authors contributed equally
  • Kozai, T. D. Y., Vazquez, A. L., Weaver, C. L., Kim, S. and Cui, X. T. In vivo two-photon microscopy reveals immediate microglial reaction to implantation of microelectrode through extension of processes. J. Neural Eng. 9(6): 066001, 2012.
  • Luo, X., Weaver, C. L., Zhou, D. D., Greenberg, R. and Cui, X. T. Highly stable carbon nanotube doped poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) for chronic neural stimulation. Biomaterials 32(24): 5551-5557, 2011.
Post-baccalaureate Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
Advisor: David Lewis, MD
  • Cruz, D. A., Weaver, C. L., Lovallo, E. M., Melchitzky, D. S. and Lewis, D. A. Selective alterations in postsynaptic markers of chandelier cell inputs to cortical pyramidal neurons in subjects with schizophrenia. Neuropsychopharmacol. 34(9): 2112-2124, 2009.

Commercial Translation Experience

Cassi is the co-inventor of a patented neural interfacing technology developed at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Engineering. She has also participated in several industry-sponsored research collaborations focused on drug discovery and disease modeling.
  • Cui X. T., Luo, X. and Weaver, C. L. Conductive polymer graphene oxide composite materials. (WO2014055846-A1)
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Megan Breski, MS

Clinical and Translational Science Institute Program Manager

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