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Nanomaterials, Stem Cells Engineering and Additive Biomanufacturing

The overarching goal of our lab is to engineer functional human tissue that will drive the engine of biomedical innovations for the next century enabling better understanding of diseases, drug discovery and therapeutics. Our research interests are nanocomposite hydrogels, stem cell engineering, stimuli-responsive biomaterials and 3D Bioprinting. To address the grand engineering challenge, our research focuses on:

(a) Developing instructive-nanomaterials to control and direct cellular functions.

(b) Designing advanced bioinks to pattern instructive-nanomaterials using 3D bioprinting.

(c) Evaluating in vitro and in vivo efficacy of engineered tissue constructs.

The objective of the lab is to generate a cohesive approach for directing stem cell differentiation and fabricating functional artificial tissue interfaces. We hypothesize that the proposed integrated approach will bring together a range of seemingly disparate disciplines that will enable us to address the complexity associated with engineering functional tissue interfaces in a manner that is otherwise not possible.

Nanoengineered Biomaterials

Hydrogels mimic native tissue microenvironment due to their porous and hydrated molecular structure. An emerging approach to reinforce polymeric hydrogels and to include multiple functionalities focuses on incorporating nanoparticles within the hydrogel network. Our laboratory focuses on the developments responsive nanoengineered hydrogels with emphasis on biomedical and pharmaceutical applications. In particular, we are developing mechanically stiff hydrogels to modulate stem cell diffrentiation and direct tissue regeneration.

Additive Biomanufacturing

Tissue engineering techniques have been applied to many types of tissues, however, numerous challenges regarding their development still remain. These challenges include our inability to generate a multifunctional tissue scaffold and the inability to mimic the complex cell-microenvironmental interactions that regulate the formation of a functional tissue. We are developing and integrating various macro-, micro- and nano-fabrication technologies to design 3D biofabricated tissue construct. In particular, we are using 3D printing approaches to design complex tissue architecture. We also combine this bottom-up approches with responsive materials to engineer tissues that are under dynamic mechanical stress. Our lab is specifically designing advanced bioink formulations to engineering complex tissue structure.

Engineering Stem Cell Niche

Advanced multifunctional nanomaterials interact with stem cell in a synergistic manner and play key roles in controlling cellular fate, which underline therapeutic success. Our group focuses on designing and engineering stem cell-nanomaterial interactions, with specific emphasis on their application in regenerative medicine. Enhanced understanding of nanomaterial-stem cell interactions will facilitate improved biomaterials design for a range of biomedical and biotechnological applications.

Emerging 2D Nanomaterials

Two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterials are ultrathin nanomaterials with a high degree of anisotropy and chemical functionality. In our lab, we are focusing on understanding the interactions of various 2D nanoparticles such as carbon-based 2D materials, silicate clays, transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), and transition metal oxides (TMOs) with stem cells and biomolecules. We are aspiring to introduce this new class of nanomaterials to biomedical community by designing smart, responsive and adaptive structures that can be used for regenerative medicine, drug delivery and immunomodulation.

Mesoscale Biomaterials

In our lab we are developing mesoscale biomaterials by bringing fundamental materials science knowledge to biomedical engineering that will enable engineering of the next generation of medical devices.

Engineering Bone-Cartilage Tissues

We are formulating novel biomaterials design and microfabrication strategies to regenerate damaged osteochondral tissue that results due to post-traumatic osteoarthritis (intra-articular and subchondral fractures). We are designing gradient scaffolds to mimic the tissue structure. This approach approach draws on a range of distinct disciplines (materials science, experimental cell biology and microfabrication) that have traditionally not been used together. This approach will enables us to address the complexity associated with engineering functional tissues (osteochondral interface). The bone region will consist of a nanoclay-rich gelatin composite to promote osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs), whereas the cartilage region will consist of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF–β1) and fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) loaded gelatin to promote chondrogenic differentiation of hMSCs.