Biomolecular, cellular, & tissue engineering

Close up of cells

Cellular mechanics and mechanobiology

Many cells in tissues are exposed to dynamic mechanical perturbations, which require constant feedback by those cells to maintain tissue function. The Alford Lab uses novel microfabrication and computational methods to better understand this cellular adaptation in development and disease.

Close-up of abdominal aorta

Tissue mechanics, aneurysms, and pain

The Barocas research group explores the relationship between tissue architecture and mechanics using multiscale computational models and mechanical experiments. Currently, they’re researching how aneurysms grow and fail, and how spinal load leads to injury or pain.

Graphic depicting how the lab is improving thermal flow assays: 1) Sample pad, 2) Conjugate pad, 3) Membrane, 4) Absorbant pad. Indicates test, control, and backing steps.

Thermally manipulating biomaterials

The Bischof group studies the thermophysical and biological changes within biomaterials after thermal manipulations. For example, they’re using nanoparticles to rewarm preserved tissues and organs and developing energy-based technologies to improve cancer immunotherapies.

Graphic of cell close-ups produced by imaging technology. Compares acceptor vs. donor, showing before and after, with bleach and 10 um. Bar charts comparing mC2Y vs. MCGY using FRET, showing amounts of mito, CFP, VDVAD, GGGG, and YFP -- Oxidative stress of Casp2 cleavage vs. no cleavage with arrow pointing to the right.

Aging and neurodegenerative diseases

Aging is the major risk for neurodegenerative diseases (NDs). Dr Herman and his colleagues have elucidated the role the Caspase-2 plays in neurodegenerative diseases. Current efforts are centered on the regulation of Caspase-2 mediated proteolysis of tau in NDs.

Image at the cellular level using imaging technology. Shows cluster with various colored arrows indicating the level of traction stress (Pa) from 0 to 1,500; more stress shown at the edges. Shown at a scale of 20 um. U251.

How cellular functions go awry

The Odde Lab aims to understand basic cellular functions in the context of diseases such as brain cancer and Alzheimer's. The team develops physics-based models that predict cell behavior, then use computer simulation and live cell imaging to identify potential therapeutic strategies.

Compilation of three graphics: A graph that's an ADP map with an ms scale of 0 to 1000. A second purplish graphic taken with imaging technology shows a zoomed-in portion of the ADP map. Also an image of a 3-D printed tissue.

Bioprinting cardiac tissues

The Ogle Lab is pushing the boundaries of 3D cardiac bioprinting. They’ve created patches that can be adhered to failing hearts, which has successfully restored cardiac function in rodents. Plus, they’ve fabricated living hearts based on a human heart’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data.

Image at the microscopic level using imaging technology. Vivid reds, purples and blues against a black background.

Bioengineering cancer therapies

Paolo Provenzano’s lab is developing new ways to combat cancer. Approaches include re-engineering tumor microenvironments to remove tumor-promoting cues, enhancing drug delivery, promoting anti-tumor immune responses, and developing next-generation cell-based therapies.

Computer-generated graphic of colored strips at the molecular level; conveys movement

Discovering treatments at the molecular scale

The Sachs Lab is trying to explain how molecules malfunction in diseases like arthritis and Parkinson’s, to discover new treatment strategies. To do this, the team combines experimental biophysics, cell biology, and computational modeling using some of the world’s fastest supercomputers.  

Image at the cellular level using imaging technology. Shows bright green patches against a gray background.

Understanding protein networks

The Sarkar laboratory uses approaches from biomolecular engineering and biology to better understand how protein networks drive health-related processes at the cellular level. Ultimately, this could lead to more effective therapeutics, such as to stop the proliferation of cancer.

Shows 4 green-blue-black images taken with imaging technology. Includes red double arrows indicating nanogroove direction. Shows non-diseased (with zoomed in region), DMD [delta]ex52-54, and DMD[delta]ex31

Engineering biomaterials to model diseases

Wei Shen’s laboratory engineers biomaterials, studies how they interact in microenvironments, and models diseases. They’ve created material for studying muscular dystrophy, a nanoparticle platform for antiviral therapy, and oxygen-releasing materials for cell-based therapy.

Hand holding a white engineered heart valve. Person is wearing pink surgical gloves.

Living valves for growing bodies

Bob Tranquillo’s laboratory develops biologically engineered “off-the-shelf” vascular grafts, heart valves, and vein valves. They’ve shown the material, produced by skin cells, has the capacity to grow, which may transform the way pediatric congenital heart defects are treated.

Circular cells taken with imaging technology at various scales: 100nm, 100um, and 5mm. Also shows a droplet being held be a tool. All against a photo of cells taken with imaging technology.

Polymers to deliver drugs, genes, and cells

Chun Wang’s laboratory develops polymeric materials to address unmet challenges in drug delivery. For example, they’re creating biodegradable polymers for cancer immunotherapies, including vaccines, and polymer wafers that’d be taken orally to deliver proteins and genes.

Medical devices from the Living Devices Lab. Two clear devices; one with red lines and one with yellow.

Microphysiologic systems to study disease

The Living Devices Lab is focused on building benchtop systems that mimic human disease outside the human body. We use microfluidics and microfabrication to create engineered tissues in which we control biological components and transport processes at the length scale that is relevant to physiology and pathology.