Our group seeks to answer the following fundamental questions: How are the final architectures of tissues and organs determined? Specifically, how do individual cells -- the building blocks of these materials -- integrate complex biological signals (both biochemical and mechanical) dynamically and spatially within tissues to direct the development of organs?
The answers to these questions have broad ramifications, from understanding the fundamental mechanisms of development, to delineating the developmental control processes that are circumvented by cancer and other diseases, to elucidating new paradigms required for successful therapeutic approaches in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Because of the complexity of the interacting pathways and three-dimensional (3D) nature of developing tissues, this problem requires an interdisciplinary approach, combining expertise from the cell biology, developmental biology, and engineering communities. Our group works at the interface of these disciplines, developing tools to engineer organotypic culture models that mimic tissue development, enabling rigorous quantitative analysis and computational predictions of the dynamics of morphogenesis. Our current focus is on understanding the branching morphogenesis process that builds the mammary gland and vertebrate lung.
and mechanical signal integration
cooperation within 3D tissues
Nelson Group, Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering, Princeton University
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