Our research interests lie at the interface of medicine and engineering. Ongoing collaborative efforts with clinicians, engineers, physical scientists, and biologists have lead to the design of new strategies that have advanced the development of engineered living tissues, implantable devices, and artificial organs, as well as cell-based therapies, which have helped to define the evolving field of Regenerative Medicine. Our laboratory has received more than $25 million in federal funding from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, as well as support from the American Heart Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Nearly two dozen patents have been issued or filed and have been licensed for improving the care of patients.
We are inspired by Nature. In the twenty-first century, we are witnessing a remarkable convergence of our synthetic and physical technologies with the world of molecular biology, which will provide unprecedented opportunities for the creation of novel, functional biomolecules. Biological systems display architectural complexity with hierarchical order at length scales greater than can be currently attained with synthetic systems. The complex structures of biology are formed from the self-assembly of molecular components, which is mediated through specific supramolecular interactions that are programmed into their molecular structure. The culmination of these events underlie the growth and differentiation of living cells, as well as those biological processes, which dictate morphogenesis and tissue repair. Over the past five decades, basic research into the structure of biological macromolecules has begun to deconvolute the structural principles that underlie the unique functionality of biological systems. While this course is far from complete, the information obtained from these studies has enabled the scientific community to gain an understanding of the relevant physical and engineering principles that guide self-assembly of biological systems on nano-, meso-, and macroscopic length scales, as well as the mechanistic features of these complex living systems that work in concert to generate distinctive functional responses in time and space.
We are inspired by service to others in need. Our research group utilizes the same structural guidelines and biologically based engineering principles for the design and construction of non-native materials and bioactive drugs that display the structural specificity of native biomolecules, but with enhanced functionality. The development of bio-inspired materials will provide component building blocks for enabling advances in cell-based therapies, artificial organs, and engineered living tissues, all of which will define the evolving field of Reparative Medicine. While many investigations in the field of bio/molecular materials science and engineering will inevitably be classified as “basic” in nature and other efforts fundamentally deemed “applied”, the success of these endeavors will be dependent on multidisciplinary, collaborative interactions between investigators in diverse disciplines throughout the physical, biological, and clinical sciences. Thus, despite the inevitably broad spectrum of studies, all of this research remains motivated by the unique needs of patients that are defined within a specific clinical context.