Organ and Tissue Mimetics
Whole organs are complex hierarchical structures in which various types of cells self-assemble into different kinds of tissues that perform specialized functions. Studying the interactions between these tissues is of paramount importance for our understanding of the development and function of living organs, as well as for various pharmaceutical and environmental applications. A major limitation in this area has been the lack of model systems that incorporate multiple tissues critical to organ function and reproduce the essential features of functional interfaces between them. We are attempting to address these challenges by utilizing design principles inspired by living organs to develop biomimetic microsystems that reconstitute structural, mechanical, and functional complexity of critical tissues and tissue interfaces. We are particularly interested in using this bioinspired strategy to develop microengineered models of lung diseases that mimic structural remodeling, inflammation, and pathological mechanical forces. Our goal is to address one of the most important yet understudied areas of lung biology/physiology by investigating how mechanical signals affect inflammation and tissue remodeling in the diseased lung.
Cell-Based Smart Biomedical Devices
Living systems that react to mechanical stimuli are extremely common in nature. As the basic building block of life, cells sense, process, and respond to various types of mechanical forces from their microenvironment, which plays a critical role in the development and maintenance of virtually every tissue and organ in the body. One of our main research interests is in the development of cell-based biomedical devices that exploit these unique properties of living cells and use specialized mechanosensory cells from various organs as self-regulating components to achieve autonomous functions for biomedical and environmental applications.
Self-Assembled Biomimetic Patterns and Structures
Self-assembly is the autonomous organization of components into ordered patterns and structures without human intervention. Nature offers countless examples of functional self-assembly that enables the design and control of complex systems ranging in size from the molecular to the macroscopic scale. We are developing multidisciplinary research projects that take advantage of these design principles for self-assembly to generate reconfigurable biomimetic nanosystems that enable analysis of biomolecules for biomedical sensing and screening applications.
Efficient Biomimetic Transport
Nature has evolved a variety of physical, chemical, and biological processes that enable the movement of mass and transmission of energy and momentum throughout a living organism in a highly efficient manner. These transport phenomena in biological systems are essential to the normal and pathological function of cells and organs, and provide remarkable examples of smart designs for the development of engineering systems that require efficient transport processes. We adopt these designs for efficient biotransport prevalent in nature to develop biologically inspired extracorporeal medical devices.