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College of Engineering and Computing

Biomedical Engineering

Parsing the Effects of Physical Cues in Stem Cell Adhesion and Lineage Specification

A wide variety of environmental factors including physical and biochemical signals are responsible for stem cell behavior and function. Many of the microenvironmental cues, however, are intertwined, and thus, further studies are warranted to identify the intricate interplay among the conflicting downstream signaling pathways that ultimately guide a cell response. Using dip pen nanolithography and traditional micropatterning techniques, we have focused on decoupling the role of diverse physical signals in determining lineage specification of stem cells. This work combines the ability to control cell size and spreading with the ability to adjust matrix elasticity to regulate stem cell lineage commitment and demonstrated that the size, shape, and matrix elasticity possess the ability to use physical characteristics to tune differentiation. In a parallel effort, in collaboration with Prof. Tarek Shazly, we have constructed a finite element model to decipher the role of mechanical cues on cell behavior. By combining a modeling and experimental component we can gain further understanding and confidently utilize finite element modeling as a predictive tool in analyzing cell function and behavior.


  • G. Harris, M. E. Piroli, and E. Jabbarzadeh, Advanced Functional Materials 14: 2396-2403 (2014).
  • K. Rutledge and E. Jabbarzadeh, Journal of Nanomedicine and Nanotechnology 5 (212): 2-8 (2014).
  • G. Harris, T. Shazly, and E. Jabbarzadeh, PLoS One 8(11) e81113 (2013).

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