CBE/ENGR 225 Faculty Seminar: Christopher Chen, M.D., Ph.D.

ESB 1001, Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

ESB 1001

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.