Interactions between cells and extracellular matrix (ECM) play pivotal roles in directing
cellular and tissue functions. However, due to the ultra complexity of biological systems,
our current understanding of cell-ECM processes and our capability to control the relevant
events have been rather limited. By integrating our knowledge in material science and
engineering, microfabrication and biology, our research is aimed at designing engineered
extracellular microenvironment for understanding and controlling cell behavior. This work
can facilitate the analysis and identification of essential extracellular cues, which can
be further applied to 2-D and 3-D artificial systems to monitor, trigger or modulate biological
processes. On one application front, our materials and devices are geared toward controlling
stem cell fate and directing stem cell differentiation for use of regenerative medicine.
On another application front, it is our interest to build targeted and triggerable delivery
systems for therapeutic compounds/cells to improve treatment outcomes.