CBE/ENGR 225 Faculty Seminar: Christopher Chen, M.D., Ph.D.
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
4 - 5 pm
*Light refreshments will be provided*
Christopher Chen, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Director of the Tissue Microfabrication Laboratory
Boston University, Massachusetts
Host: Otger Campas, Ph.D.
Forces, Form, and Engineering Cell and Tissue Function
ABSTRACT: A long recognized tenet of biological systems is that structure gives rise to
function. Mechanical force in contrast has emerged only recently as a critical dimension that links
form and function, providing the central effector to sculpt the body plan during morphogenesis, as well
as a mechanism for cells to sense and respond to local changes in tissue structure and mechanics.
Despite the realization that forces, form, and function permeate all living systems, we as a research
community sorely lack methods to control the mechanics of the environment, the spatial organization
of cells, or the architecture of cell-matrix and cell-cell interfaces, which collectively define the
boundary conditions for how forces are transmitted into cells. I will describe our efforts to design and
build physical microenvironments that explicitly manipulate and monitor the structure and mechanics
of cellular interactions with their surroundings, and how we have used these approaches to gain
insights into their role in regulating cell and tissue structure, signaling, and function. I will use our
studies to illustrate 1) the multiple means by which cell-material interactions can control cell signaling
and function; 2) how we can use these insights to begin to assemble organotypic cultures that mimic
complex multicellular architectures; and 3) opportunities and challenges for how to connect these
insights to the ultimate translational objectives set by regenerative medicine.