Bioengineering Seminar Series

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"Synthetic Human Embryo in a Dish"

Jianping Fu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Cell and Developmental Biology
Associate Director, Michigan Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care
University of Michigan

Human peri- and post-implantation embryonic development remains mysterious, given the scarce human embryo specimens and limited numbers of non-human primate embryos.  Recent advances in the generation of human embryo-like structures ("synthetic human embryo") from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have sparked great interest in using such synthetic human tissues for advancing human embryology, embryo toxicology, and reproductive medicine.  In this talk, I will describe our research to leverage the developmental potential and self-organizing properties of hPSCs in conjunction with biomimetic culture systems for developing different synthetic human embryo-like structures.  I will first discuss our effort in constructing a microengineered model of early human neurological developmental processes.  Specifically, we have utilized microengineered hPSC cultures to develop autonomously regionalized neuroectoderm tissues in vitro.  Importantly, our findings suggest that induction and regionalization of neuroectoderm tissues involve mechanically gated molecular signaling through regulations of cell shape and cytoskeletal contractility to reinforce spatial cell fate patterning in neuroectoderm tissues.  In the last part of my talk, I will discuss another hPSC-based, synthetic embryological model of human post-implantation development that recapitulates multiple embryogenic events including amniotic cavity formation, amnion-epiblast patterning, and primitive streak development.

Jianping Fu is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with a primary appointment in the Mechanical Engineering Department and courtesy appointments in the Biomedical Engineering Department and the Cell and Developmental Biology Department.  He also serves as the Associate Director for the Michigan Center for Integrative Research in Critical Care (MCIRCC).  Dr. Fu’s group integrates micro/nanoengineering tools and systems and synthetic biology methods with new discoveries of mechanobiology, epigenetics, and stem cell biology for advancing understanding of human development and cancer biology.  Dr. Fu is the recipient of the American Heart Association Scientist Development Award (2012), the National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2012), the Mechanical Engineering Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award (2014), the Robert M. Caddell Memorial Award for Research (2014), the Ted Kennedy Family Team Excellence Award (2015), and the Rising Star Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society - Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (2016).  Dr. Fu's research group is currently supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, and some other foundations and agencies. 

The Bioengineering Seminar Series is a collaboration between the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, and the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Colly Mitchell
  • Created: 07/31/2017
  • Modified By: Colly Mitchell
  • Modified: 08/15/2017