BME Seminar Series: Ruogang Zhao, Ph.D.
Microfabricated Tissue Culture Platforms for Multiscale Biomechanics and Mechanobiology
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York
Conventional engineered tissue models for biomechanical and biomaterials research often suffer from their bulky size, which hinders fast diffusion of soluble factors and imaging at the cellular level. In this talk, I will present a novel 3D microtissue array system that can bridge the length-scale between the single cells and the tissues, and thus opens a novel window for the study of mechanobiology and biomechanics. We have recently adopted microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) techniques to assemble 3D cell-populated submillimeter microtissues in arrays of poly(dimethylsiloxane) (PDMS) microwells. In each microwell, fibroblasts spontaneously contract and assemble the matrix proteins, such as collagen, into aligned microtissues that anchor between a pair of cantilevers. Using this platform, we have studied how the cells and the extracellular matrix separately contribute to tissue contractility and stiffness, and how the mechanical boundary conditions and the differentiation of cells to a mechanically active phenotype contribute to tissue stiffening. Finally, I will briefly describe the application of this novel culture platform in stem cell derived cardiac tissue engineering.