Human tissues are composed of mixtures of cells that cooperate in a healthy microenvironment to perform the necessary functions of that organ. In contrast, altered microenvironments are a hallmark of disease. While cell-specific processes such as those controlled by a cell’s genes certainly influence the balance between health and disease, our focus is on interactions between cells and their microenvironment that occur on the length scales of receptor interactions (10 nm) to multicellular interactions (100 ┬Ám). We leverage engineering tools that have been created by the semiconductor community to speed rates of computation through miniaturized manufacturing capabilities. These micro-and nanotechnology tools, by virtue of their spatial resolution, enable the precise synthesis, interrogation, and perturbation of tissue microenvironments. Thus, we aim to dissect the role of the tissue microenvironment in both health and disease using engineering tools. Specifically, we focus on tissue microenvironments of clinical importance in liver biology and cancer, and we seek to translate our findings into new therapies for patients.

Awards and Achievements

  • National Academy of Science