Stem Cell Engineering Center Seminar Series
Human embryonic stem cells can grow indefinitely in culture and generate all parts of the human body. Therefore, these remarkably plastic cells are termed “pluripotent” and represent attractive resources for tissue engineering and human disease modeling. Making these cells in a standardized and predictable manner however has been problematic, because the methods to derive and propagate these cells are either poorly understood or difficult to scale-up. Through two projects, I will describe engineering approaches to 1) identify key parameters that control the kinetics of a new technique of deriving pluripotent stem cells and 2) develop new polymeric materials that can efficiently propagate them. The first project describes stochastic transitions involved in progressing to a pluripotent state through epigenetic reprogramming, and the second project details biomolecules involved in the clonal growth of human cells in a pluripotent state. These modeling and materials engineering frameworks open up opportunities to readily grow sufficient quantities of clinically-grade, standardized human pluripotent cells from routine biopsies or blood samples, ultimately providing a foundation for more active, regenerative, and personalized therapy.
Krishanu Saha studied Chemical Engineering at Cornell University and at the University of California in Berkeley. In his dissertation with Professors David Schaffer and Kevin Healy, he worked on experimental and computational analyses of neural stem cell development, as well as the design of new materials for adult stem cell culture. In 2007 he became a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Since 2006 he has done research on human embryonic stem cells. As a Society in Science: Branco-Weiss Postdoctoral Fellow, Kris is expanding his background to investigate the modeling of diseases at the cellular level with human “reprogrammed” stem cell lines.