Professor: Jonathan T. Butcher
Project Description: Many soft tissues in the body exhibit a complex structural architecture that is critical for its efficient function. One example is heart valves, which maintain unidirectional blood flow through the heart. Another example is with vascularized tissue flaps, where the proper patterning of blood vessels is essential for even nutrient perfusion of the entire tissue volume. We have been developing 3D printing technology that enables layer by layer fabrication of soft tissues with both macro scale anatomic fidelity but also micro structural control, for example tethering adhesive or growth factor domains or changing material stiffness. In this project, we will apply this technology to test how microenvironmental features can control local differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells towards multiple somatic cell types. This capacity could improve current tissue engineering approaches by enabling more accurate cell phenotype heterogeneity.