• Muscle cells from a rat heart cultured on PEG hydrogels and imaged with an ImageXpress high content screener (William Wan)

  • Mouse ES-derived motor neuron in PEG hydrogel (Daniel McKinnon)

  • Neonatal Rat Ventricular Myocytes seeded on PEG hydrogel (William Wan)

  • Valvular Interstitial Cells alone and cocultured with Valvular Endothelial Cells (Sarah Gould)

  • Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells adopt different morphologies on different patterned surfaces (Chelsea Kirschner)

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A major focus of research in the Anseth group is the development of biomaterial scaffolds with highly-controlled architectures and chemistries for three-dimensional cell culture, tissue regeneration, and biological arrays and/or assays. We are particularly interested in understanding how cells receive information from materials and what happens to cell function over time when assembled within three-dimensional microenvironments. Our approach exploits classical engineering principles and modeling, as control is required on many times scales, from seconds to months, and on many size scales, from the molecular to macroscopic. Our methods include the design of passive biomaterial niches that simply permit cells to function, as well as bioactive environments that dynamically promote or suppress specific cellular responses, including proliferation, differentiation, and extracellular matrix production. Our research spans the spectrum of fundamental studies to better understand the role of the biomaterial environment on cell function and the biology of tissue formation to targeted clinical applications in the design of in situ forming cell carriers that promote healing. Further, we use these materials to develop novel techniques to characterize and screen cell-material interactions, rapidly detect biological molecules through controlled surface chemistries, and develop models to study cellular pathology.