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Our research centers on creating biomaterials-based “living” immune tissues as organoids or on-chip to recapitulate structural and functional aspects of lymph nodes. The immune follicle organoids communicate dynamically with B and T cells and regulate the immune response. Using engineering principles, we study cellular and biophysical crosstalk among lymphoid tissues with immune cells, their tumors. Our lab investigates the decision-making in immune cells at the cellular, molecular, and epigenetic levels to protect from infections, cancer, and inflammation. Our lab studies the effect of metabolic syndrome on bioengineered vaccines and develops immuno-modulatory nanomaterials to modulate microbiome and immune cells in metabolic disorders.
We have four major directions:
- Multiscale engineering of immune cells and lymphoid organs: Our interest is in developing ex vivo immune organoids and on-chip technologies to understand the process through which the B and T cells interact in the immune system to makes antibodies. We are interested in multiscale engineering strategies for the design and development of B and T cell-based immunotherapies. The engineered ex vivo immune organs have applications in immunity, cancer, infections, and inflammation.
- Cancer Bioengineering: Our interest is in understanding how disruption of normal signaling and epigenetic processes results in the transformation of healthy cells to cancers. By developing ex vivo “malignant” tissues in a dish or on-chip, we have led to the discovery and advancement of new classes of signaling, epigenetic, and immune therapeutics. Our focus areas are immune neoplasms, hematological malignancies, and prostate cancer.
- Immunomodulation in Metabolic Syndrome and Gut Microbiome: We are interested in studying the effect of metabolic syndrome on the bioengineered system and develop new immuno-modulatory biomaterials, especially individually tailored nanomedicines to adjust specific microbial species and immune cells in metabolic disorders and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), such as ulcerative colitis.
- Immunology: We are interested in the study of mechanisms through which the signaling and epigenome programs the normal and disease-specific immune responses.
Research in our laboratory is supported by the National Institute of Health (The NIAID; NCI, and NIBIB), Wellcome Leap, Department of Defense, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, National Science Foundation, 3M, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, NSF CMaT, and seed funds.