Sherry L. Voytik-Harbin

Areas of Research: Tissue Engineering/Regenerative Medicine, Tunable Collagen Polymers, 3D Tissue/Organ Systems, Mechanotransduction, Stem and Progenitor Cells, Cell-ECM Interactions, Therapeutic Cell and Drug Delivery, Vasculogenesis

Project: Vascularized Tissue and Organ Replacements

Using tunable, polymerizable collagen polymers and relevant stem/progenitor cell populations we are applying design-build-model approach to create vascularized tissues and organs using perfusion and bioreactor technologies.  Our approach involves design and creation cell-instructive microenvironments including relevant biophysical, molecular, and cellular signaling that guide cell fate and associated development of tissue-specific form and function (morphogenesis). Students participating in this translational research project will receive guidance from a multidisciplinary team of faculty representing relevant engineering, modeling, and clinical disciplines.


Project: 3D In-Vitro Tissue Systems for Drug Discovery and Toxicity Testing

This project focuses on design and development of miniaturized three-dimensional (3D) in-vitro tissue systems that are human-cell based and recapitulate the complexities of normal or diseases tissues and organs in-vitro.   One high interest area focuses on the development of a modernized 3D in-vitro tumor model that uniquely incorporates and supports systematic study of the interstitial extracellular matrix and vascular components of the tumor niche.  These systems will be designed to accommodate multi-parametric investigations and high throughput screening for purposes of providing next generation drug discovery and toxicity testing platforms.  This project incorporates our design-build-model approach to promote experimental efficiency and design optimization.  Students participating in this translational research project will receive guidance from a multidisciplinary team of faculty representing relevant engineering, modeling, and life science disciplines as well as pharmaceutical industry representatives.


Project:  Collagen-based Delivery Platforms for Delivery of Therapeutic Cells and Molecules

This project focuses on the application of tunable collagen polymers for the design and development of injectable and implantable vehicles for the delivery of therapeutic cells and molecules.  Collagen materials representing a variety of formats can be tuned in terms of microstructure, physical, and biodegradation properties. Various material formats (e.g., sponges, sheets) will be designed and optimized to achieve precision-controlled (spatiotemporal) and/or targeted release of therape  utic molecules.  Delivery strategies for therapeutic cells, which may include implantable constructs, encapsulation, or injectable formulations that polymerization in situ, will be designed to localize cells and provide them with a customizable microenvironment that promotes their survival and predictably guides cell fate. All collagen delivery platforms will incorporate a design-build-model approach to promote experimental efficiency and design optimization. Students participating in this translational research project will receive guidance from a multidisciplinary team of faculty representing relevant engineering, modeling, and clinical disciplines.


Project:  3D Tissue/Organ Printer

This project focuses on the application of advancements in printing technology (3D printer, inkjet) for precision delivery of volume elements (voxels) comprising cells, biomolecules, and matrix components.  Precision control over 3D spatial distribution of voxels will allow design of 1) tissue-specific  histology and function  as well as 2) high throughput basic research and drug discovery platforms focused on recapitulating the integrated signaling modalities (e.g., biophysical, cellular, and molecular) of the cellular microenvironment.  Students participating in this translational research project will receive guidance from a multidisciplinary team of faculty representing relevant engineering, modeling, and life science disciplines.