The ChE Graduate Leadership Council Presents: “Photoresponsive hydrogels for studying and directing organoid formation” by Dr. Kristi Anseth

Host: The ChE Graduate Leadership Council


During morphogenesis, flat cell layers buckle and branch to form three dimensional structures that develop into complex tissues.  Many of these processes are intimately coupled to the underlying extracellular matrix properties and the ability of the matrix to resist cell-generated traction forces.  To study such dynamic events requires biomaterial chemistries and properties that allow for adaptability, and photochemical reactions are particularly powerful for this type of experimentation.  This talk will focus on some of our recent work in developing and implementing photo-responsive hydrogels that allow for exogenous control over matrix mechanics, topography, and viscoelastic properties in the presence of adult intestinal stem cells.  In one example, cells are encapsulated in photodegradable formulations and the growth of colonies characterized as a function of initial hydrogel stiffness. At pre-selected time points, spatially controlled photodegradation can be performed in the vicinity of growing colonies, and the ability of colonies to organize in response to this matrix signal and adopt the crypt structure is characterized as a function of the extent of degradation.  A second example will highlight the development and use of an allyl sulfide crosslinked hydrogel, which allows one to alleviate cell-generated stress with light while maintaining a constant storage modulus.  Developing scaffolds for organoid cultures is an archetypal engineering problem, requiring control of numerous properties on multiple time and length scales important for directing cell fate and organization.  New biomaterials systems have the potential to significantly improve our understanding of how stem cells receive information from their microenvironment and the role that these dynamic processes may play in controlling the evolution of complex organoid structures.


Kristi S. Anseth is the Tisone Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Associate Faculty Director of the BioFrontiers Institute at the University of Colorado at Boulder, USA.  Her research interests lie at the interface between biology and engineering where she designs new biomaterials for applications in drug delivery and regenerative medicine.  Dr. Anseth is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering (2009), the National Academy of Medicine (2009), the National Academy of Sciences (2013), and the National Academy of Inventors (2016).  She is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and the Materials Research Society.  Dr. Anseth currently serves on the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Board of Trustees for the Gordon Research Conferences, and is an editor for Biomacromolecules, Progress in Materials Science, and Biotechnology & Bioengineering.


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