While stem cell differentiation in 3D recapitulates aspects of embryonic development and stem cell niches, current approaches lack spatial and temporal control of morphogenesis and patterning. We are working to engineer methods that enable precise control of the biophysical and biochemical environment.

Outside-in Engineering- Recent studies  from  our  group  have demonstrated that modulation  of  the  stem   cell   culture   environment impacts pluripotency  and differentiation  via  indirect  and  direct effects on aggregate formation and size, as   well   as   intercellular   and   matrix  adhesions   and   soluble  morphogen expression.   Therefore, ongoing work aims   to   define   the   role   of   fluidic parameters     (transport,     shear), morphogen composition and metabolite profiles in regulating cell fate, particularly in 3D stem cell aggregates. We have also    explored    techniques     for manipulating  the stem cell environment via microencapsulation of aggregates in  hydrogel   materials,   which   enables tunable changes in mechanics and permeability via modification of material properties.

Inside-out Engineering - We have also successfully developed techniques for engineering the stem cell microenvironment from the inside-out using biomaterial microparticles that are directly incorporated inside the aggregates of cells.  The biomaterial particles, often in the form of microspheres, can be engineered to temporally control the delivery or presentation of morphogenic factors locally.  Depending upon the choice of materials and morphogens, this approach can be broadly used to direct stem cells to various differentiated cell fates. We are working in collaboration with polymer chemists, biomaterials scientists and engineers to develop novel delivery vehicles and related technologies capable of improving the controlled presentation of morphogens to stem cells undergoing differentiation.

Related Publications

Associated Collaborators

School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Tech
Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Tech
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engieering, Georgia Institute of Technology
School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Tech
School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Georgia Tech
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Wisconsin
Chemical & Biological Engineering, University of Wisconsin
Institute of Biomaterials & Biomedical Engineering, University of Toronto

Associated Lab Members

Graduate Student
“Extracellular matrix-mediated differentiation of stem cells”
American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellow
“Morphogenesis of 3D pluripotent stem cell aggregates”
NSF Graduate Research Fellow
"Microfluidic techniques for directing stem cell differentiation in 3D microenvironments"
Graduate Student
"CRISPRi as a tool to examine adhesion molecules in early development"