Reminder from the College of Science

The College of Science invites you to attend a guest lecture
Organ-on-a-chip: A new paradigm for personalized medicine
Monday, June 5
3 p.m.
EXPL 3301
Guest Speaker:
Stella Alimperti, Research Fellow
Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Boston, MA, 02115
Organ-on-a-chip is an emerging technology that mimics the three dimensional (3D) structure and the physiological response of an organ. This technology has the potential for high throughput drug screening without the need of costly animal studies, which sometimes fail due to deficiency in cross-species extrapolation, and for the tailoring of medical treatments to the individual characteristics of each patient. Although this technology may be used to test out different organ related-diseases, we focus on cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) since they are considered one of the leading cause of mortality in the United States. Indeed, approximately 17 million Americans are diagnosed with CVDs with an estimated collective cost to the healthcare system of over $140 billion. Major forms of arterial diseases, such as atherosclerosis and stroke, are characterized by non-functional and leaky blood vessels. Although these causes are multifactorial, perivascular cells including smooth muscle cells (SMCs) or pericytes (PCs), and endothelial cells (ECs), have crucial role in blood vessel function by controlling vascular barrier and contractility. To probe and understand their functionality under pathophysiological conditions, we have developed a 3D in-vitro bi-cellular biomimetic platform, called blood vessel-on-a-chip, which facilitates the identification of the key factors involved in perivascular diseases. Specifically, we study the role of cell-cell interaction mediated by cadherins in perivascular contractility and barrier function of the blood endothelium. To further investigate important genes involved in these two cell types affecting their functionality or their intracellular communications, we developed lentiviral synthetic biology tools, such as CrispR and Chemical Inducible Dimerization (CID). In summary, this bi-cellular model demonstrates the continuous and rapid modulation of adhesive interactions between perivascular cells and endothelial cells and its impact on vascular barrier function, and highlights a new in vitro platform to study the biology of perivascular-endothelial interactions. We anticipate that this new biomimetic microfluidic system in conjunction with stem cells and organ specific cells would be crucial in deciphering complex disease mechanisms and in identifying novel treatments involved in kidney diseases and cancer. Finally, organ-on-a-chip is a first step towards to the development of new technologies applied in personalized medicine, such as 3D printing autologous organs for transplantation.

The livestreaming is at We have 25 live-stream seats on a first-come, first-served basis.

Martha Bushong
Director of Communication & External Relations
Volgenau School of Engineering 
Nguyen Engineering Building, Room 2202
MS# 5C8
Fairfax, VA  22030
phone: 703-993-5595 (office)