BioE Seminar: Engineering Complexity via Biomaterials Design
Abstract: Advances in the field of tissue engineering are increasingly reliant on biomaterials that instruct, rather than simply permit, a desired cellular response. Instructive biomaterials hold significant promise for clinical applications as well as to enable mechanistic studies in the laboratory. As tissues can be dynamic, spatially-patterned, or inhomogeneous over multiple length and time scales, my lab is developing new approaches to engineer biomaterials at the structural and biomolecular level in order to replicate these heterogeneities. These efforts are providing new insight regarding the degree of biomaterial complexity required to instruct cell behavior in the context of development, disease, and regeneration. I will describe a collagen biomaterial under development to address current barriers preventing regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues such as the osteotendinous (tendon-bone) junction and craniofacial bones. Here we use inspiration from nature (e.g., porcupine quills, honeycombs, and plant stems) to better co-optimize bioactivity and mechanical competence. I will subsequently describe a microfluidic forming technique to create libraries of optically-translucent hydrogels containing overlapping patterns of cell, matrix, and biomolecule cues. We are using this platform to explore the coordinated impact of cell and matrix signals on niche-mediated regulation of hematopoietic stem cell fate and malignancy and therapeutic response of glioblastoma.