Dr. Wendy Liu
Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of California, Irvine
"Engineering Immunomodulatory Biomaterials"
Abstract: The immune response to implanted materials remains a critical challenge for the development of biomaterials used in medical devices and regenerative medicine. Understanding this response and designing better biomaterials requires a multidisciplinary approach involving materials engineering and immunology. Our laboratory combines microscale technologies with synthetic and natural polymers to control the physical and biochemical properties of biomaterials. We are interested in understanding how material properties regulate the function of immune cells, particularly macrophages, versatile regulators of the innate immune system that are involved in inflammation, wound healing, and tissue regeneration.
In this talk, I will describe two areas in which we are currently focused. First, we are examining how physical features of the extracellular microenvironment, including adhesion geometry, topology and matrix composition, influence macrophage function. We have leveraged these features in engineering materials to encourage macrophage-mediated wound healing. In a second approach, we are utilizing biomolecules expressed by host tissue to mask the biomaterial surface, and thus promote immune tolerance. Our ultimate goal is to create biomaterials that control local immune cells and mitigate the host response to implanted devices.
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