The next generation of diagnostic and biomedicine development will be fueled by a deeper understanding of cell and tissue systems biology. In vivo, tissue structure and local cell-cell/cell-matrix interactions define cell microenvironment and regulate cellular phenotypes and behaviors. Signaling networks are triggered by precise microenvironmental cues that occur on a micro-/nanometer scale through physicochemical interactions. Yet, these length-scale and physical properties of the microenvironment are rarely considered during discovery efforts to identify new targets that drive disease or intervention.
The vision of our laboratory is thus to create biologically inspired in vitro platforms, to capture the scale of cell signaling in tissue microenvironments from subcellular to tissue levels, and discover novel therapeutics for human diseases. Our integrative approaches include micro-/nano-technologies, biomaterials, biomechanics, cell/tissue engineering, single-cell technologies, and imaging techniques. Our research projects have strong underpinnings of human physiology and pathology, systems biology, and in vivo models.
The current research directions are in developing integrated techniques for subcellular biosensing and modulation of T cell activation, and creating microfabricated models of cancer microenvironments. The functional goal of our research is to translate the knowledge gained into applications for immune and cancer therapeutics, cancer biomarker/drug development, and regenerative medicine.