Institutes, Centers & Labs
The Robert E. Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices is bringing together skilled scientists, medical doctors, health practitioners, and bioengineers who are working to research, design, and build biomedical devices to benefit humanity, while simultaneously training the next generation of innovators.
The fabrication of complex engineered tissues remains a grand challenge in regenerative medicine. These complex tissues – bone, cartilage, vasculature, and cardiac – are characterized by dense cellularity, patterned cellular composition, and controlled matrix presentation. Mimicking this native complexity within in vitro cell-based constructs and biomaterial formulations has enormous potential for clinical applications towards repair and regeneration of tissues. The objective of CECT is to address this clinical opportunity by applying three-dimensional (3D) printing strategies to produce novel tissue engineered constructs with transplantation capabilities. CECT brings together research leaders at the University of Maryland, Rice University, and Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, known for their strong bioengineering and biofabrication expertise, state-of-the-art resources, and translational experience, to form 3 Technology Research and Development Projects (TR&Ds).
The Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation (M-CERSI) is funded by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The center focuses on modernizing and improving the ways drugs and medical devices are reviewed and evaluated. This center is a collaborative partnership between the University of Maryland, College Park, and the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Researchers from both campuses work with FDA staff to support the development of new tools, standards and approaches to assess the safety, efficacy, quality and performance of FDA-regulated products.
The Bio-Imaging and Machine Vision Laboratory develops technologies for food, biomedical, and biomaterial engineering applications. Current projects include machine vision-guided high throughput automated strawberry de-stemming, 3D laser imaging for oyster sizing, hyperspectral imaging-assisted black walnut de-shelling/hazardous item detection, and automated combined X-ray and laser imaging for bone fragments detection. Previous projects include multi-modality imaging to assess vascularity in Kaposi’s sarcoma, ultra-low-dose X-ray multi-slice helical CT, and prospective head movement correction for high resolution MRI using an optical tracking system.
The Biochip Collaborative spans five laboratories and research groups in the Clark School of Engineering, the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, and the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. The Collaborative's goal is to enlist molecular bioengineering to "translate" the communication between biological and microfabricated systems in a manner that embraces the fragility of biology. Its overarching objective is to exploit the recognition and self-assembly capabilities found in biological systems for fabrication, in both the means by which materials and devices are fabricated and the components of the subsequent product that can be found in nature. The group seeks to demonstrate the creation of "biofunctionalized" devices" in which proteins, cells, and cell populations are interrogated on-board and moved between locations based on measured biological responses. This goal will be accomplished by the systematic study of a complex cell-to-cell communication system that has emerged as a determinant of bacterial pathogenicity.
The Biomolecular and Metabolic Engineering Laboratories employ the tools of "functional" genomics to understand the regulation of genetic circuits during applied stresses. In particular, DNA microarrays are used for analyzing gene expression on a global basis. This, coupled with transcriptional promoter probes, quantitative RT-PCR, Northern and Western analyses ultimately enables close to real time detection of gene expression in targeted circuits. The group is currently focusing on stress-related and nutritionally- regulated pathways such as those involving s32, sS,and sN. The group's objective is to alter the intracellular environment to improve cellular processes, including the production of recombinant proteins. It is also developing new analytical tools to monitor gene expression both in vivo and in vitro.
The Biomolecular Modeling Laboratory aims to explore how molecular behavior dictates macroscopic-scale properties of systems. Professor Matysiak's group utilizes statistical thermodynamics to estimate thermophysical properties from computer simulations on a molecular level. Group members model self-assembly of soft materials such as surfactants, proteins, lipid and polysaccharides. They particularly focus on characterizing molecular mechanisms that are relevant in many neurodegenerative diseases and certain types of cancer.
The main research thrust of the Biophotonics Imaging Laboratory is to develop multi-scale, multi-modality optical imaging technology with a particular focus on early cancer detection and neuroimaging. Its goal is to non-invasively image tissue morphology and function at the cellular and molecular level to provide early diagnostic information and real-time guidance of therapeutic interventions.
The Jay Lab's research aims to uncover new biological insights towards the design and development of novel biotherapeutics (aka biopharmaceuticals), including proteins, extracellular vesicles (exosomes) and others. They also strive to develop new approaches to drug delivery and biomanufacturing using fundamental tools from both engineering and biology. Employing techniques in molecular biology, protein design and engineering, biomaterials and nanotechnology, theyare primarily interested in developing new biotechnologies to address a variety of clinical needs, including wound repair, cardiovascular disease, cancer, brain and spinal cord injuries, neurological diseases, osteoarthritis, sepsis, and others. Overarching goals of the lab include developing therapeutics towards clinical translation and endowing trainees with the skills and knowledge necessary to become leaders in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.
Research in the Cell and Microenvironment Engineering Lab lies at the interface of cell engineering, nano/microtechnology, and quantitative mechanobiology, and integrates principles and techniques from engineering, biology, and physics in order to address questions related to physiological processes and diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. The group's goal is to utilize this highly interdisciplinary approach in order to create relevant in vitro models of multi-scale biological systems (from intracellular signaling to single cell behavior to multicellular complexes), to understand how cells respond to physical and biochemical cues from their microenvironment, and to develop regenerative therapies for diseases using engineering strategies. The group is particularly interested in questions at the interface of nano/microtechnology and blood-brain barrier mechanobiology, nuclear mechanics, and stem cell engineering.
The Cell Biophysics Laboratory applies the theoretical and experimental machinery of physics and engineering to obtain a quantitative understanding of specific problems inspired by biological systems. The group studies the mechanics and motility of healthy cells, as well as those of cells with pathological conditions. Of particular interest for the group is to understand how the mechanical environment dictates cell functions.
Modeling, design, and control of micro- and nano-scale systems and flows for bio-chemical and clinical applications. The Shapiro Group chooses applications where control can dramatically improve or allow new capabilities, and focuses on areas that will allow better diagnosis and treatment of people. Current projects range from precision and gentle control of individual cells on chip, e.g. for cell handling, sorting, and complex sample preparation, to control of magnetic nano-particles in people, for drug delivery to the inner ear and to primary and metastatic tumors. (Above: Feedback control of magnetic fields to focus chemotherapy coated nano-particles to deep tissue tumors.)
The Eisenstein Group investigates a variety of questions involving plants, including their remarkable capacity to produce a complex array of interesting compounds, their response to pathogens and disease, and the feasibility of engineering their biosynthetic apparatus for applications ranging from human health to biofuel production. The group's research interests include gene-metabolite relationships in medicinal plants, exploring the molecular basis for plant disease resistance, and plant metabolic engineering.
Associate Professor Keith Herold joined the University of Maryland's Department of Mechanical Engineering in 1987, where his research focused on energy systems and absorption refrigeration. In 2000, he shifted his focus to bioengineering and began exploring biosensors, microarrays, and related lab-on-a-chip technologies. In 2006 he joined the newly formed Fischell Department of Bioengineering, where his work in these areas continues. His current research projects include collaborations with the FDA on a DNA-based pathogen biosensor, and with electrophysiologists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine on the analysis of patients suffering from ventricular tachycardia.
The Human Performance Laboratory focuses on computer-based communication, monitoring and testing devices aimed at evaluating and understanding the cognitive, motor, and psychomotor skills of workers who use respiratory equipment. The lab's goal is to improve performance and safety for those in potentially hazardous occupations such as emergency rescue, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, and landscaping. The HPL is also developing new, noninvasive ways to evaluate respiratory health in adults and children.
The goal of the Jewell Lab is to develop biomaterials that generate immune responses with specific, tunable characteristics, an idea known as “immunomodulation.” This goal has two complementary thrusts: basic investigations to understand the interactions between synthetic materials and the immune system, and translational studies that exploit these interactions for therapeutic vaccines targeting cancer and autoimmunity. We use biomaterials that range from degradable polymer particles, to lipid carriers, to self-assembling and multi-functional materials. We study these materials in cells and animal models, incorporating tools from chemistry, engineering, basic biology, nanotechnology, and immunology. Our ongoing projects include design of vaccines and immunotherapies, understanding the interactions of biomaterials with lymph nodes and other immune tissues, harnessing self-assembly of immune signals to control immune function, and investigations of the materials we design in pre-clinical models of multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, melanoma, and pediatric cancer.
The Model Analysis Laboratory researches spatial analysis and control of active and passive biological agents in dynamic, intensive and extensive, heterogeneous bioenvironments. Analytical and numerical computational devices are developed within deterministic and stochastic frameworks, coupled with artificial intelligence tools and integrated into multi-dimensional spatial databases to form Decision Support Systems (DSS) aimed at designing strategies for analyzing and controlling the dynamics of nutrients, drugs, toxins and active bioagents from the scale of individual cells through tissues and organs to urban landscapes, watersheds and broad geographical regions. Current projects in biomedical, bioenvironmental and ecological engineering areas include: estimation of in-vivo cellular transport parameters by inverse modeling; multi-continuum and stochastic modeling of wetland function; spatial control of Canada Goose in the Washington DC region; development and application of embedded LISP-based microncontrolled devices for smart biomonitoring and control.
The Multiscale Biomaterials Engineering Laboratory is dedicated to the research and education on developing multiscale (nano, micro, and macro) biomaterials and devices with bioinspired spatiotemporal complexity to (1) encapsulate and deliver small molecules, genes, peptides/proteins, cells, and tissues and (2) engineer 3D biomimetic systems in vitro, with the ultimate goal of improving the safety and efficacy of cancer treatment, tissue regeneration, and assisted reproduction.
The Nanoscale Interfacial Biology and Engineering Laboratory specializes in the development of new measurements capable of resolving key processes on the nano- to microscale in biology and medicine to aid in the design of more sensitive diagnostics and effective therapeutics. The group integrates nanoparticle-based imaging modalities and advanced 3D human tissue culture models to study the biomolecular and biophysical aspects of fundamental processes that contribute to the onset and progression of disease. The NIBE Lab has a particular interest in pulmonary diseases where researchers aim to understand the lung airway microenvironment in order to develop new biosensor devices that enable clinicians to more readily stratify patients, personalize clinical treatment regimens, and predict future pulmonary complications.
The Optical Therapeutics and Nanotechnology Lab integrates nanoscience and photobiology to help fight disease and improve daily lives. Dr. Huang's group engineers nanometer-scale objects that allow optical and biophysical manipulation of the disease at various levels.This approach could facilitate the study of physiological barriers to drug delivery, immune tolerance, and molecular drug resistance in living animals and in clinical trials. The established photo-responsive nanotechnology could give a broadly enabling platform for a wide variety of applications, ranging from personalized healthcare to military and security. The lab's educational initiatives focus on the development of resources for engineering students and science educators to further their knowledge in photobiology and photochemistry and to foster a sense of community.
The Optics Biotech Laboratory studies optics and photonics to devise novel technology for biological research and clinical medicine. In particular, we focus on imaging modalities able to map properties that are difficult or impossible to measure with traditional techniques but with important biomedical applications. Our research covers all stages of the translational spectrum: we study what light is and how it interacts with cells, tissue and biomaterials; we develop advanced optical technology and build new instrumentation; and, we use our instruments for biological research and in clinical trials.
The Photonic Biosensors Laboratory develops integrated microsystems for the diagnosis and study of disease at the cellular and molecular level. Using a combination of microfabrication techniques, the group implements micro total analysis systems for three major research thrusts: infectious disease detection based on DNA signature biosensing; understanding cancer metastasis using a new on-chip assay to identify and enrich highly tumorigenic cells; and low-cost, portable, point-of-sample pesticide, explosives, and toxin detection using 3D optofluidic surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy scaffolds.
The Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory uses the principles of both engineering and life sciences to develop biomaterials that improve the quality of life of ill or injured patients. The lab is used to fabricate polymers into easily implantable biomaterials by first synthesizing novel hydrolytically degradable biomaterials. Molecular and cellular biology principles are then incorporated to understand the interaction of cells, tissues, and higher life systems with these novel biomaterials. Areas of focus in the lab include the study of biomaterials for the delivery of therapeutics, scaffolds for orthopedic tissue engineering applications, and the interaction of biomaterials and tissues.