Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering

quoteTwo of the great advances of the past 20 years have been the identification of the molecular underpinnings of cell function and the ability to manipulate cellular behavior. At the University of Virginia, faculty in cellular and molecular bioengineering are at the vanguard of new approaches to integrate this wealth of information to rationally understand disease progression and to develop new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.

One prominent area of research by UVa Biomedical Engineering faculty is cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesion: these molecular level interactions are vital to many processes in inflammation, cancer, atherosclerosis, blood flow regulation, and tissue regeneration and are being studied in this context. The performance of aggregates of proteins is another highly challenging problem being addressed at several levels: molecular motor function, energy landscapes of protein-protein interactions, cytoskeletal network remodeling in response to mechanical force, and gene expression in response to blood flow.

With quantitative knowledge of these processes, BME faculty and students are designing novel therapeutic approaches for drug and gene delivery that hinge upon the use of tailored protein patterns on surfaces, microbubbles with adhesive ligands, and mechanical disruption of endothelial cells. The work is enhanced by active collaborations with our Nanotechnology and Microfabrication Center, as well as our outstanding cell biology and vascular biology groups.

Primary Faculty

Brent French: molecular bioengineering of cardiac and vascular tissues in vivo

Will Guilford: laser trap measurement of protein bond pair dynamics, molecular motor function, motor protein motility

Brian Helmke: intracellular mechanics and signaling, extracellular matrix assembly, nanotechnology tools for engineering cell structure and function

Jeff Holmes: mechanical regulation of cardiac fibroblast and myocyte biology

Kevin Janes: intracellular control of epithelial morphogenesis and homeostasis; cancer-cell engineering

Kimberly Kelly: molecular mechanisms of disease; targeted nanostructures for imaging and drug delivery; molecular imaging

Michael Lawrence: thrombosis, cell adhesion & protein bond mechanics, drug delivery

Jason Papin: cell-cell signaling network reconstruction and analysis; pathogen-host interactions

Shayn Peirce-Cottler: combinations of angiogenic growth factors in microvascular remodeling

Richard J. Price: bone marrow-derived cell regulation of microvascular remodeling

Jeff Saucerman: live-cell imaging and molecular control of signaling networks in cardiac myocytes