Jan Fandrianto Professor
The Healy Laboratory is currently investigating the design and synthesis of biomimetic materials that actively direct the behavior of mammalian cells to facilitate regeneration of tissue and organs. Traditionally, biomaterials encompass synthetic alternatives to the native materials found in our body. A central limitation in the performance of traditional materials used in the medical device, biotechnological, and pharmaceutical industries is that they lack the ability to integrate with biological systems through either a molecular or cellular pathway. This has relegated biomaterials to a passive role dictated by the constituents of a particular environment, leading to unfavorable outcomes and device failure. The design and synthesis of materials that circumvent their passive behavior in complex mammalian cells is the focus of our work conducted at Berkeley.
The group's work encompasses three main areas of research. Three-dimensional hydrogel scaffolds designed to mimic the extracellular matrix are being created that incorporate biomimetic motifs, such as cell binding sequences, proteolytically degradable crosslinks, and regulatory protein analogs. Surface coatings tuned to resist non-specific protein adsorption and cell adhesion are being explored, which can then be tethered with cell binding and regulatory protein sequences to address fundamental questions in cell biology and tissue engineering. The lab is also developing tunable artificial extracellular matrices for the maintenance and directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells.