Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

Engineered skeletal muscle
Engineered skeletal muscle

Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine

Research in tissue engineering integrates cells, scaffolds and bioactive signaling molecules to assemble functional tissue constructs that can repair damaged tissue or provide models of disease states. The field of regenerative medicine encompasses many aspects of tissue engineering and strategies to encourage repair and regeneration of diseased cells, tissues, and organs.

Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine research within the department includes stimuli-responsive scaffold development, immunomodulatory biomaterials, 3D bioprinting, tissue-engineered tumor models, and platforms to study the impact of flow and rehabilitative exercise on regeneration. These technologies are applied to reveal new biological insights and provide functional interventions in multiple disease processes including cardiovascular disease, cancer, musculoskeletal injuries, skin and burn wounds, and lung, nerve and spinal cord injuries.

Faculty in the department are engaged with the OHSU Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Cancer Early Detection Advanced Research Center.

Research Projects

Stimuli-Responsive Scaffolds Image

Cells in the body are exposed to a complex array of dynamic spatiotemporal cues including growth factors which can influence cell behavior and fate. Our research develops novel biomaterial scaffolds that are responsive to externally-applied physical stimuli to allow precise spatiotemporal control of cell signaling and behavior. We develop these tissue-engineered systems for applications in wound healing, engineered tissue vascularization and regenerative medicine.

A Gelmi and CE Schutt. "Stimuli-Responsive Biomaterials: Scaffolds for Stem Cell Control." © 2020 The Authors. CC-BY 4.0. ]

Tissue engineered tumor models for studying early cancer progression

Our research designs dynamic tissue-engineered platforms to model cancer progression starting from its early stages. This includes the development of in vitro models which can better represent the three-dimensional tissue architecture, cell-cell communication and mechanical and transport properties of the tumor environment.  We harness these models to study disease progression and develop new biomarkers to detect cancer earlier and treat it more effectively.

Vascular grafts

Through biophysical modulation of material scaffolds, we can modulate the phenotype and inflammatory potential of vascular endothelial cells (ECs) for the generation of small diameter vascular grafts that exhibit resistance to the development of atherosclerotic lesions. We have examined extracellular matrix based graft materials (Image 1a) as well as electrospun hybrid polymers (Image 1b) in the context of in vitro iPSC-derived cell guidance and in vivo as interposition carotid artery grafts. We have shown that through spatial patterning of these graft materials, healthy function and anti-inflammatory EC phenotype can be controlled. We are continually exploring new ways to use biomaterials to modulate vascular cell function and improve grafting outcomes.

Physiologically mimetic environment devices

A key challenge facing the translation of engineered tissues into clinical therapeutics may be in part due to conducting our biological questions and building target tissues in physiologic isolation. We are interested in understanding the impact of flow on endothelial cells when complexed with spatial patterning and mechanical gradients in both 2 and 3 dimensions using physiologically mimetic flow devices to better understand the development of atherosclerotic lesions and failure of clinically adopted grafting approaches and ECMO devices. Expounding on the importance of physiological context, we are interested in combinatorial interactions between multiple tissue systems under dynamically regulated biophysical conditions.

Immunomodulatory biomaterials

There is an unmet clinical need for off-the-shelf therapeutics to repair and restore function to damaged and diseased tissues. Localized regeneration and long-term recovery depend on a cascade of interactions between the biomaterial and a range of immune cells, stem/progenitor cells, and the tissue microstructure environment. We focus on generating cell-free biomaterials to modulate macrophage polarization, neutrophils, and other key immune players, via biomechanical, chemical, and topographical cues to guide host-driven regeneration and healing.

Rehabilitative exercise

There is an unmet clinical need for off-the-shelf therapeutics to repair and restore function to damaged and diseased tissues. Localized regeneration and long-term recovery depend on a cascade of interactions between the biomaterial and a range of immune cells, stem/progenitor cells, and the tissue microstructure environment. We focus on generating cell-free biomaterials to modulate macrophage polarization, neutrophils, and other key immune players, via biomechanical, chemical, and topographical cues to guide host-driven regeneration and healing.

Interface engineering

Traumatic musculoskeletal injuries are associated with complex tissue damage particularly at the interface of muscle and bone. Although skeletal muscle exhibits known self-reparative properties, once a critical volume of muscle is lost, the tissue cannot independently restore the injured muscle, resulting in extensive scar formation and functional impairment. Furthermore, traumatic musculoskeletal injuries commonly present with complex blast or impact damage to both bone and soft tissues. A major challenge facing new therapeutics is the development of stratified and gradient biomaterials to bridge these interfaces. Using regional spatial, compositional, and mechanical cues to differentially regulate cell fate and phenotypic maintenance, we have the dual goals of augmenting soft tissue regeneration while also restoring load-bearing tissue architecture to generate cohesive and physiologically mimetic vascularized bone-ligament/tendon-muscle composites.

Faculty and Labs

    • Appointments and titles

      • Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine
    • Areas of interest

      • Energy-responsive biomaterials
      • Tissue engineering / hydrogels
      • 3D in vitro tumor models
      • Triggered drug and gene delivery
      • Ultrasound stimulation platform engineering
      • Nanomaterials design and characterization
    • Appointments and titles

      • Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine
    • Areas of interest

      • Engineering cells and tissues for the treatment of cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases
      • Modulation of inflammatory and angiogenic endothelial cell phenotype using nano-patterned and immunomodulatory biomaterials for the generation of athero-resistant small diameter vascular grafts
      • Using rehabilitative exercise to enhance innervation, immune-based muscle regeneration, and force recovery following traumatic volumetric tissue injury
    • Appointments and titles

      • Professor of Biomedical Engineering, School of Medicine
    • Areas of interest

      • Interventional Cardiology
      • Biomedical Engineering
      • Adult Stem & Progenitor Cell Therapy
      • Battlefield Medicine
      • Nerve & Spinal Cord Injury
      • Biomaterials