Rapid advancements in science and technology have now made us to act beyond than just mimicking nature but understanding and implementing natural systems and their governing principles; that is “bio-inspiration”. Our lab’s vision is to design and develop bio-inspired technologies for applications in diagnostics, therapeutics and drug discovery. Our long-term objective is to develop multifunctional, smart interfaces embedded in 2D or 3D microenvironments that mimic the natural microenvironment of organs, provide qualitative and quantitative information about the immobilization of cells and/or biomolecules in an active state, minimize non-specific adhesion, and in effect guarantee reliability and performance of the final biomedical device.

Organ-On-Chip devices are biomimetic microsystems lined by living cells that reconstitute the key functional and micro-environmental features of whole organs including tissue-tissue interfaces, mechanical forces, fluid flow and relevant chemical gradients. These microfluidic devices can reproduce complex integrated organ-level responses to pathogens and inflammatory cytokines, as well as nanoparticles and pharmaceuticals; they also can effectively mimic disease states and complex pathophysiological responses. Organ-On-Chip micro devices lined by human cells may therefore expand the capabilities of cell culture models and provide low-cost alternatives to animal and clinical studies for drug screening and toxicology applications. Our goal is to develop 3D Organ-On-Chip micro-devices that reproduce key structural, functional, and mechanical properties of whole organs, including the lung, gut and kidney and implement these functional devices for drug discovery as well as personalized medicine where patient specific cells are used to construct the organ function in vitro to investigate personalized patient specific treatments.

Recently, with the advances in miniaturization, Lab-On-a-Chip devices have started to play an important role for a wide range of biomedical applications such as point of care (POC) diagnostics, cell sorting, drug discovery and basic studies. A Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) is a device fabricated using micro and nano-fabrication techniques that integrates one or several laboratory functions on a single chip of only a few square millimeters in size while consuming small biological sample volumes in the order of nano and pico liters. Reduction of time and cost of assays, precision in detection, high surface to volume ratio, portability and ability to design cellular microenvironments are the main advantages of LOC devices for cell detection and sorting. In our lab, we focus on integrating and incorporating our newly designed and engineered bio-functional interfaces into miniaturized LOC devices to enhance their efficiency for applications in diagnostics and drug discovery.

This research platform is focused on the design and development of bio-inspired functional materials and coatings with emphasis on integration into biomedical devices. Biomedical devices span a wide range of apparatus, appliances and materials used for diagnostic and/or therapeutic purposes such as extracorporeal devices used in blood purification, point-of-care diagnostics, implants, and drug discovery platforms. The performance of all such devices relies on the effective interaction of biological entities with synthetic material. We focus on engineering the physical, mechanical, and chemical structure of the interface between biological and non-biological matter (i.e. the bio-interface) as a means for designing innovative, highly functional engineering platforms for biomedicine. More specifically we focus on designing effective bio-interfaces to minimize non-specific binding while retaining and enhancing the desired function of the bio-interface (e.g., attachment of specific biomolecules and cells, selective proliferation/differentiation of cells, avoiding biofilm and clot formation, etc).