Department Seminar

Engineering Stem Cells from “Outside-In” and “Inside-Out”: A Biomaterials-mediated Approach

Speaker Details:

Fan Yang
Assistant Professor
Bioengineering, Stanford University

Lecture Details:

February 5, 2015
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Foege N130A, Wallace H. Coulter Seminar Room


Stem cells are attractive cell sources for regenerative medicine due to their unique capacity of differentiation, as well as their ability to contribute to tissue repair via paracrine signaling. However, the efficacy of applying stem cells alone to achieve robust tissue regeneration in situ remains limited, often due to lack of appropriate microenvironmental cues to guide desirable cellular fates. In this talk, I will discuss examples of our research on how to employ biomaterials to address these challenges using two strategies. In the first strategy, we engineer stem cell microenvironments from “outside-in” by developing novel biomaterials as artificial extracellular matrix. Using a “lego-building” approach, our platforms allow fabrication of biomaterials modules with independently tunable cell niche properties including biochemical, mechanical and topographical cues. Such biomaterials can provide useful tools to enhance cell engraftment, guide desirable cell fates and provide tissue-mimicking mechanical properties. In the second strategy, we harness stem cells as drug delivery vehicles and its ability to catalyze tissue regeneration via paracrine signaling. We can further engineer the paracrine signaling of stem cells from “inside-out” using biodegradable polymeric nanoparticle-mediated non-viral gene delivery. Potential applications of such stem cell and biomaterials-based strategies for treating musculoskeletal and cardiovascular diseases will be demonstrated using relevant animal models.

Speaker Bio:

Fan Yang is currently an Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering, and Director of Stanford Stem Cells and Biomaterials Engineering Laboratory. Her research seeks to understand how microenvironmental cues regulate stem cell fate, and to develop novel biomaterials and cell-based therapeutics for tissue regeneration, with special focus on treating musculoskeletal diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Prior to joining Stanford, Dr. Yang received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Prof. Jennifer Elisseeff’s lab at the Johns Hopkins University, and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Prof. Robert Langer at MIT. In recognition of her innovation, she was selected to be one of 2011 TR35 Global list honorees by Technology Review, which recognizes the world’s 35 most outstanding innovators who are younger than 35. Dr. Yang has also been recognized by multiple awards from both federal agencies and private foundations including the NSF CAREER Award, the NIH R01 award, Young Investigator Award from Alliance for Cancer and Gene Therapy, National Scientist Development Award from American Heart Association, Rising Star award from BMES-CMBE, Mission for Learning Faculty Scholar Award in Pediatric Translational Medicine, Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Faculty Scholar Award, the McCormick Faculty Award, Stanford Asian American Faculty Award, the 3M Nonteured Faculty Award and the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award.