Prof. Christopher Moraes, Ph.D.
Canada Research Chair in Advanced Cellular Microenvironment, Assistant Professor
Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University
Website – http://cmed.lab.mcgill.ca
Microscale tissue-on-chip technologies: watching biology function in high-definition
Physical factors in the microenvironment play a pivotal role in driving cell and tissue function. Ignoring these complex factors in conventional tissue culture systems makes the translational utility of in vitro cultures uncertain. Our lab focuses on reconstructing realistic miniature versions of biological tissues, using a combination of microengineering, biomaterial, and tissue engineering strategies. These ‘on-a-chip’ systems may ultimately be used to predict disease progression, stratify patient risk groups, and identify potential therapeutic strategies. More immediately however, the throughput, precision and dimensions of tissues engineered at this length scale provide a remarkable capacity to ‘watch’ biology happen in unique ways. For example, remodeling the extracellular matrix is a critical component in the feedback loop driving disease progression, but our technical capacity to measure the mechanics of 3D tissues undergoing complex remodeling is severely limited. In this talk, I will describe recent and ongoing work in which we develop novel strategies to recreate the mechanical tissue microenvironment, and construct dynamic ‘maps’ of tissue mechanics during morphogenetic programs associated with disease progression.