"User-Programmable Hydrogel Biomaterials to Probe and Direct 4D Stem Cell Fate"
The extracellular matrix directs stem cell function through a complex choreography of biomacromolecular interactions in a tissue-dependent manner. Far from static, this hierarchical milieu of biochemical and biophysical cues presented within the native cellular niche is both spatially complex and ever changing. As these pericellular reconfigurations are vital for tissue morphogenesis, disease regulation, and healing, in vitro culture platforms that recapitulate such dynamic environmental phenomena would be invaluable for fundamental studies in stem cell and organoid biology, as well as in the eventual engineering of functional human tissue. In this talk, I will discuss some of our group’s recent successes in reversibly modifying both the chemical and physical aspects of synthetic cell culture platforms with user-defined spatiotemporal control, regulating cell-biomaterial interactions through user-programmable Boolean logic, engineering microvascular networks that span nearly all size scales of native human vasculature (including capillaries), and irreversibly photoassembling bioactive proteins within living cells. Results will highlight our ability to modulate intricate cellular behavior including stem cell differentiation, protein secretion, and cell-cell interactions in 4D.