Our laboratory focuses on the engineering and application of functional biomaterials. One area of interest is the fabrication of hydrogels as defined mimics of the extracellular matrix to study cell physiology and pathophysiology outside of the body. We also develop biomaterials to aid in tissue repair or disease management.
3D cell culture, biomedical engineering, drug delivery, mechanobiology, tissue repair
The study of cell function within controlled environments outside of the body offers unique opportunities to investigate specific hypotheses about tissue physiology and pathophysiology. To recapitulate cell function ex vivo, defined mimics of the extracellular matrix for 3D cell culture are needed to provide an environment with the suitable biochemical and biophysical properties. Therefore, we are working to design a range of hydrogel-based material platforms for the study of dermal cell biology. These materials enable the direct encapsulation of cells, for example primary dermal fibroblasts, and enable downstream molecular biology readouts and in situ imaging. These simplified 3D tissue models offer a complementary approach to in vivo analysis and enable more physiologic investigations than standard cell culture on 2D plastic. We apply these models to study dermal fibroblast mechanobiology and its role in disease progression and to culture tumor spheroids within 3D tissue models as a replacement for traditional xenograft cancer models. These projects are done in collaboration with SKINTEGRITY.CH partners.
A translational benefit of this research is that the same materials can be designed for regeneration of functional tissue in vivo. Thus, we are also exploring how to leverage what we learn from 3D cell culture to design material platforms for acute and chronic wound repair.
SKINTEGRITY.CH Principal Investigators are in bold: