The primary research interest of our group is to develop and integrate nanotechnologies and chemical functional genomics to modulate signal pathways in cells (e.g. stem cells and cancer cells) towards specific cell lineages or behaviors. In particular, we are interested in studying the function of microenvironmental cues (e.g. soluble signals, cell-cell interactions, and insoluble/physical signals) towards stem cell and cancer cell fate. In order to investigate the functions of microenvironmental cues that affect stem or cancer cell behaviors, we inevitably require an ability to emulate microenvironmental systems in vitro and assay responses of cells to these multiple signals. Recognizing how cell behaviors are controlled by the microenvironmental cues is, however, much more complex. Studying the complicated cell behaviors necessitate, at minimum, two abilities: i) to precisely control the features of the microenvironment that affect cell behaviors and ii) to probe stem cell responses to multiple cues at the single molecule level. For example, both approaches from nanotechnology-the "top-down" pattering of extracellular matrix (ECM) and signal molecules in combinatorial ways (e.g. ECM compositions, pattern geometry, pattern density, and gradient patterns), and the "bottom-up" synthesis of multifunctional nanoparticles and their modification with specific signal molecules-should be combined synergistically, if the complex cell behaviors are to be fully investigated. Collectively, our research program is directly relevant to matters concerning biomaterials, nanomedicine, chemical biology and stem/cancer cell biology.
Major Research Topics:Biosurface engineering at the micro-/nanoscale (Top-down approach), Nanomaterial synthesis and their functionalization (bottom-up approach), Stem cell & cancer cell biology
Research Topic 1. Biosurface engineering at the micro-/nanoscale
Research Topic 2. Synthesis and utilization of multi-functional nanomaterials for molecular imaging and drug delivery
Research Topic 3. Modulating signaling pathways and probing biological interactions