Our research is focused on engineering cells and micro/nano materials for tissue regeneration and therapeutic development. Current research interests include the following five areas.
Cell engineering and mechanobiology
Stem cells and reprogrammed cells have broad applications in regenerative medicine, disease modeling and drug screening. While the effects of biochemical factors on stem cell differentiation and cell reprogramming are widely studied, the roles of biophysical factors are not well understood. We investigate how biophysical factors such as mechanical cues and the micro/nano structure of biomaterials regulate cell fate determination and epigenetic changes, and translate fundamental findings into cell engineering technologies.
Cardiovascular diseases are a leading cause of death in the U.S. and many countries. We are interested in understanding how stem cells and vascular cells are involved in blood vessel regeneration and remodeling. We aim to develop self-regenerated vascular grafts that are mechanically durable, anti-thrombogenic and bioactive by engineering the micro/nano structure and surface chemistry of polymers and biological matrices. We also employ drug delivery systems to modulate regeneration and remodeling processes of blood vessels and heart.
In situ tissue engineering
Our body has tremendous potential to regenerate and remodel tissues. We seek to understand the underlying mechanisms and harness the regeneration potential of stem cells, immune cells and local cells. We engineer stem cells, design biomimetic materials, and develop novel drug delivery systems to awaken and modulate tissue regeneration in situ. Ongoing research in the lab focuses on blood vessel and neuromuscular tissues.
Immune cells play important roles in atherosclerosis, transplant rejection and cancer development. We are interested in engineering bioactive mciro/nano materials and drug delivery systems to modulate immune cell activation and functions, which may lead to novel therapeutics.
Theranostic tissue engineering
Tissue regeneration and remodeling often take a long time and may have irreversible failure. We are interested in combining tissue engineering and point-of-care monitoring approaches to develop theranostic devices by integrating microsensors into scaffolds. Current models include nerve regeneration and vascular remodeling.
- Wang D, Li LK, Dai T, Wang A, Li S. Adult Stem Cells in Vascular Remodeling.Theranostics. 2018;8(3):815.
- Wong SY, Soto J, Li S. Biophysical regulation of cell reprogramming. Current Opinion in Chemical Engineering. 2017 Feb 28;15:95-101.
- Sia J, Yu P, Srivastava D, Li S. Effect of biophysical cues on reprogramming to cardiomyocytes. Biomaterials. 2016 Oct 1;103:1-11.
- Sia J, Sun R, Chu J, Li S. Dynamic culture improves cell reprogramming efficiency. Biomaterials. 2016 Jun 1;92:36-45.
- Downing T, Soto J, Morez C, Houssin T, Yuan F, Chu J, Fritz A, Patel S, Schaffer D, Li S. Biophysical regulation of epigenetic state and cell reprogramming.Nature materials. 2013 Dec;12(12):1154.
- Yu J, Wang A, Tang Z, Henry J, Li-Ping Lee B, Zhu Y, Yuan F, Huang F, Li S. The effect of stromal cell-derived factor-1a/heparin coating of biodegradable vascular grafts on the recruitment of both endothelial and smooth muscle progenitor cells for accelerated regeneration. Biomaterials. 2012 Nov 1;33(32):8062-74.
- Tang, Z, Wang, A, Yuan, F, Yan, Z, Liu, B, Chu, JS, Helms JA, Li S. Differentiation of multipotent vascular stem cells contributes to vascular diseases.Nature Communications. 2012 June 6; 3: 875.
- Park JS, Chu JS, Tsou AD, Diop R, Tang Z, Wang A, Li S. The effect of matrix stiffness on the differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells in response to TGF-β.Biomaterials. 2011 Jun 1;32(16):3921-30.
- Wang A, Tang Z, Park IH, Zhu Y, Patel S, Daley GQ, Li S. Induced pluripotent stem cells for neural tissue engineering..Biomaterials. 2011 Aug 1;32(22):5023-32.