Biomaterials, Tissue Engineering, and Regenerative Medicine

Without question, one of the most fertile biotechnological areas for the development of new and innovative medical therapies for the next century lies in the realm of biomaterials, tissue engineering  and regenerative medicine. Given the remarkable advances in fundamental understanding of the functions and behaviors of cells and tissues over the past few decades, and the development of new enabling technologies such as micro, nano, and bio-inspired material fabrication methods, we are poised in the 21st century to translate this basic knowledge into vast improvements in the practice of medicine. 

By combining basic science, engineering problem-solving and clinical wisdom, age-old handicaps that used to devastate people's lives - blindness, deafness, paraplegia, organ dysfunction and failure, memory loss, and even death - may be circumvented by cell transplants, advanced drug delivery systems, intelligent prostheses, neural implants, artificial organs, and natural organs regrown after injury or disease. In addition to the latter, some foresee that cell and tissue-based integrated systems will, in the not-too-distant-future, become pharmaceutical industry standards for early and late stages of drug discovery and drug testing, in the same manner that combinatorial approaches have revolutionized early steps of drug synthesis and discovery. Finally, the NIH estimates that the current world market for replacement organ therapies is in excess of $350 billion, and the projected U.S. market for regenerative medicine is estimated at $100 billion.

Faculty in this research area are:
  • Investigating basic cellular and tissue phenomena
  • Developing new biomaterials, including highly efficient, active materials that mimic biological actuation, sensing, and conduction
  • Investigating approaches for stem cell differentiation
  • Developing methods and materials for the construction of functional tissue and organ substitutes
  • Developing micro-devices that can support biological cells and tissues, and that can be used as key dynamic tools that bridge the gap between conventional cell culture and animal studies
  • Studying environmental control of cell growth
  • Investigating engineering principles and scale-up of stem cells, iPS (Induced pluripotent stem) cells and other cellular therapeutics
  • Studying the characterization and modeling of materials properties for healthy and diseased tissues and the assessment of the efficacy of treatments
  • Developing integrative computational and experimental approaches to identify, verify and characterize the genetic regulatory elements, e.g., the conserved non-coding DNA sequences and their interacting protein factors that involved in the gene regulation in stem cells
  • Development of biomaterial scaffolds and therapeutic cells – such as stem cells - to promote tissue repair and regeneration
  • Developing advanced methodology for drug delivery including targeted liposomes and nanopharmaceutical

Faculty: Francois Berthiaume, Li Cai, Joseph Freeman, Adrian Mann, Prabhas Moghe, Charles Roth, David Shreiber, Stavroula Sofou, and Martin Yarmush