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Chemical Engineering pres.

ChE Seminar Series: Brendan Harley

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

>This Seminar will be held in the North Campus Research Complex, Building 32, Auditorium

"Building tissues:engineering complexity through biomaterial design"


Advances in the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine require biomaterials that instruct, rather than simply permit, a desired cellular response. A major challenge is the striking cellular and structural heterogeneity of the tissues and organs in our bodies, which can be hierarchical, graded, and heterogeneous over multiple length and time scales. Prof. Harley’s research program is developing approaches to pattern biomaterials at structural and biomolecular scales to replicate these complex environments. We provide new insight regarding the degree of biomaterial complexity required to investigate cellular processes related to development, disease, and regeneration. I will describe a collagen biomaterial being developed to regenerate craniomaxillofacial bones and musculoskeletal insertions. We are using bioinspired design motifs to create composite materials that instruct desired cell activities while retaining mechanical competence required for clinical translation. I will also describe a gelatin hydrogel platform and microfluidic forming techniques we have developed to create libraries of optically-translucent tissue microenvironments containing patterns of cell, matrix, biomolecular, and metabolic cues. We are using these engineered microenvironments to culture hematopoietic stem cells and patient-derived glioblastoma specimens, the most common and lethal form of brain cancer. I will highlight work that employs this platform to regulate processes such as stem cell self-renewal vs. quiescence; cell-cell signaling and remodeling of perivascular environments; as well as to identify microenvironmental signals driving cancer cell invasion and therapeutic resistance.


Brendan Harley is a Professor and Robert W. Schaefer Faculty Scholar in the Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received a B.S. in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University (2000), a Sc.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT (2006), and performed postdoctoral studies at the Joint Program for Transfusion Medicine at Children’s Hospital Boston (2006 – 2008). His research group develops biomaterial platforms to dynamically regulate cell behavior for applications in musculoskeletal regeneration, hematopoietic stem cell biomanufacturing, as well as to investigate endometrial pathologies and invasive brain cancer. He has received funding from the NSF, NIH, American Cancer Society, the U.S. Army, and the AO Foundation. Prof. Harley co-founded a regenerative medicine company, Orthomimetics Ltd., to commercialize a biomaterial for osteochondral regeneration (global patent protection; CE Mark approval; 150+ patient Phase I clinical trial).

Dr. Harley has received a number of awards and honors including an NSF CAREER award (2013), the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Biomaterials (2014), as well as college and campus-level research, teaching, and promotion awards (U. Illinois). He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014) and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2018).

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