New methods for probing the effect of material mechanical properties on stem cell differentiation will be developed. It has been well established that the mechanical properties of the three-dimensional (3D) matrix in which stem cells reside plays an important role in directing their differentiation. The modulus of a material can influence morphology, proliferation, migration, differentiation, and tissue generation. Culture of primary human mesenchymal stem cells on matrices of various moduli can induce their commitment down their different lineages: bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, and nerve. In this project, we will develop novel methods for characterizing the effects of material mechanical properties on stem cell function in 3D. Techniques for systematically modulating 3D scaffold modulus as well as techniques for assessing stem cell differentiation in 3D will be explored. Development of these methods will improve our understanding of how the mechanical properties of 3D tissue scaffolds can be optimized for maximizing 3D tissue regeneration for clinical applications.
Biomaterials; Cell differentiation; Ceramics; Combinatorial; Hydrogel; Nanofibers; Polymer; Scaffold; Stem cell; Tissue engineering; Regenerative medicine;