Tissue engineering tradionally consists of three components: scaffolds, cells and signals. In our lab, we are interested in developing clinically-applicable platform technologies to manipulate scaffolds, cells and signals to create a condition or microenvironment in vitro or in vivo to promote tissue regeneration and self-healing. More specifically, our research aims (1) to integrate microfabrication (bottom-up) with scaffolding (top-down) approaches to re-vascularize engineered cortical and cancellous bones at a large scale, and (2) to achieve temporally and spatially controlled signals that regulate tissue regeneration, leading to a functional tissue regeneration with biomimetic complexity and enhanced functionality. Currently, we are interested in applying the tissue engineering principles to repair and treat musculoskeletal diseases and trauma such as large segmental bone defects, osteonecrosis, rotator cuff injury, and bony birth defects ,along with dental and orthopaedic infections.
One of our major endeavors is to develop bio-inspired biomaterials and medical devices to recapitulate in vivo bony microenvironment. In our lab, we are particularly interested in the concepts of functionally graded biomaterials and various means to realize them by enabling gradual and spatial variation in biomaterial chemistry, structure, property, and signals from nano-, micro- and to macro-level. The goals of our research are to seamlessly integrate different interfacial propertiesand signals and achieve multiple functions. Recently, we have invented a novel bioprinting technology, called Hybprinter, which can seamlessly integrate soft and rigid material components using different printing techniques in a sequential fashion under a single platform. We also developed novel soft and rigid biomaterals that can be used in this hybprinter for acellular and cell-laden medical devices. The technologies we developed in our lab allow us to builid the foundation for vascularized composite tissue constructs, which is potentially a solution for the shortage of organ transplantation and various grafts for disease treatments. Figure 1 shows the schematic of a vascularized composite tissue, the Hybprinter and various representative medical devices and tissue engineering constructs using different modules of the Hybprinter.