Stem Cell Engineering Center Seminar Series

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Abstract: Microsystems have the potential to impact biology by providing new ways to manipulate cells and the microenvironment around them.  Simply physically manipulating cells or their environment—using microfluidics, electric fields, or optical forces—provides new ways to organize cell-cell interactions.  Our lab has been using cell manipulation to study cell-cell interactions in stem cell self-renewal, differentiation, and nuclear reprogramming.  To control diffusible signaling and study its influence on cell fate, we have developed arrays of microfluidic perfusion culture chambers that use fluid flow to create a convection-dominated transport environment.  This in turn provides a more controlled soluble microenvironment in which to study diffusible signaling in self-renewal and neural specification.  Using these systems, we have identified the existence of previously unknown autocrine loops involved in fate specification, and have delineated the effects of shear itself on self-renewal.  We are also developed ways to control cell-cell interactions by creating patterns of multiple developmentally important cell types.  For example, by using micropatterning to spatially arrange embryonic stem cells with respect to supporting cells found in the early blastocyst, we have been able to recapitulate early developmental steps in vitro.  Together, the ability to control cell placement and diffusible signaling provide news ways to exploit stem cells’ potential for both basic science and applied biotechnology.


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Colly Mitchell
  • Created:02/09/2011
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016