Our goals are to pioneer the development of biomaterial systems for 3D cell culture to further fundamental understanding of how cells receive and exchange information with their extracellular microenvironment, and subsequently to use this knowledge to engineer material niches for translational applications in cell delivery and regenerative medicine. Our approach includes the development of synthetic, tunable extracellular matrix mimics by employing multiple orthogonal chemistries to fabricate hydrogel polymer systems. We exploit photochemical reactions to manipulate material biophysical and biochemical properties in both space and time. These 3D cell culture platforms have been applied to answer questions of fundamental biological and clinical importance, which include (i) demonstrating specific extracellular signals to control the survival, expansion and differentiation of bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells and mouse embryonic stem cells, (ii) pioneering strategies to create bioactive materials that protect transplanted beta cells from deleterious effects of the immune system, and (iii) understanding the fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition in valvular interstitial cells as it relates to heart valve disease and exploring the role of mechanotransduction in regulating the myofibroblast phenotype. Research projects in our group are funded primarily by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Kristi S. Anseth earned her B.S. degree from Purdue University in 1992 and her Ph.D. degree from the University of Colorado in 1994. She then conducted post-doctoral research at MIT as an NIH fellow and subsequently joined the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder as an Assistant Professor in 1996. Dr. Anseth is presently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering. Her research interests lie at the interface between biology and engineering where she designs new biomaterials for applications in drug delivery and regenerative medicine. Dr. Anseth’s research group has published over 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals and presented over 180 invited lectures in the fields of biomaterials and tissue engineering. She was the first engineer to be named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and received the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest award of the National Science Foundation for demonstrated exceptional individual achievement in scientific or engineering research. In 2009, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Anseth is also a dedicated teacher, who has received four University Awards related to her teaching, as well as the American Society for Engineering Education’s Curtis W. McGraw Award. Dr. Anseth is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. She serves on the editorial boards or as associate editor of Biomacromolecules, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research — Part A, Acta Biomaterialia, Progress in Materials Science, and Biotechnology & Bioengineering.