Research Laboratories and Facilities
Research is primarily conducted in a new four-story, 124,600-square-foot Life Sciences and Bioengineering Center (LSBC) located at Gateway Park. This space is largely dedicated to research laboratories that focus on non-invasive biomedical instrumentation design, signal processing, tissue biomechanics, biomaterials synthesis and characterization, myocardial regeneration, cell and molecular engineering, regenerative biosciences and tissue engineering. The LSBC research facility also maintains a modern core equipment facility that includes cell culture, histology, imaging and mechanical testing suites to support cellular, molecular, and tissue engineering research activities.
A brief description of each BME research laboratory is given below.
Biomedical Sensors and Bioinstrumentation
The development of integrated biomedical sensors for invasive and noninvasive physiological monitoring. Design and in-vivo evaluation of reflective pulse oximeter sensors, microcomputer-based biomedical instrumentation, digital signal processing, wearable wireless biomedical sensors, application of optics to biomedicine, telemedicine.
Soft Tissue Biomechanics/Tissue Engineering
Research focused on understanding the growth and development of connective tissues and on the influence of mechanical stimulation on cells in native and engineered three-dimensional constructs. Research areas include:
- micromechanical characterization of tissues,
- constitutive modeling,
- creation of bioartificial tissues in vitro, and
- the effects of mechanical stimulation on the functional properties of cells and tissues.
Research focuses on understanding the interactions between cells and precisely bioengineered scaffolds that modulate cellular functions such as adhesion, migration, proliferation, differentiation and extracellular matrix remodeling. Understanding cell-matrix interactions that regulate wound healing and tissue remodeling will be used to improve the design of tissue-engineered analogs for the repair of soft and hard tissue injuries. Research areas include:
- studies investigating the roles of microfabricated scaffolds on keratinocyte function for tissue engineering of skin;
- development of tissue scaffolds that mimic the microstructural organization and mechanical responsiveness of native tissues; and
- development of microfabricated cell culture systems to understand how extracellular matrix molecules regulate epithelial cell growth and differentiation.
Research projects focus on regenerating functional cardiac muscle tissue. Research areas include:
- stimulating adult cardiac myocytes, a cell previously considered to be post-mitotic, to enter the cell cycle;
- differentiating adult stem cells into cardiac myocytes; and
- scaffold based cardiac regeneration.
The efficacy of these technologies are tested with in vitro and in vivo models using molecular and cellular tools and the functionality is assessed using high spatial resolution mechanical and electrical method.
Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering and Extracellular Matrix Biology
The extracellular matrix (ECM) produced by cells dictates tissue architecture and presents biochemical signals that direct cell proliferation, differentiation and migration. Generating an appropriate ECM is critical for proper physiological and mechanical performance of engineered tissues. Research projects include:
- design and testing of genetic and biochemical engineering strategies to stimulate cellular ECM synthesis and organization,
- cell-based approaches to generate tissue engineered blood vessels (TEBV),
- evaluation of ECM production and its effect on TEBV mechanical properties, and
- ECM gene delivery approaches for in situ tissue regeneration.