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"Two Examples of Engineering Cell Fate: Blood Stem Cell Therapy and Cardiac Drug Screening"
Peter W. Zandstra, PhD
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Stem Cell Bioengineering
CSO, Centre for the Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine
University of Toronto
**Seminar to be videoconferenced at Emory University Hospital, Hurst conference room, 4th floor, E450
Spatial organization and intercellular (between cell) communication networks are important components of the stem cell microenvironment. These higher order interactions maintain homeostasis and coordinate regenerative and developmental cues in multicellular organisms. We have developed a number of new tools to measure and control cell-cell interactions. These include: high throughput systems for screening paracrine interactions between cells; network analysis strategies (and toolboxes) to depict and analyze ligand connectivity between stem cells, their progeny and cells in their microenvironment; and artificial stem cell niches to regulate and control the context and impact of these interactions. In this presentation I will review the key design principles of these tools, and discuss their application in two short examples. In the first example I will describe our recent work in controlling feedback signaling from differentiated cells to grow human blood stem cells in a clinical relevant bioprocess. In the second example I will present our efforts to formulate human pluripotent derived cardiac cells into micro-tissues that allow for high-throughput functional analysis of responses to drug candidates.
Research in the Zandstra Laboratory is focused on the generation of functional tissue from adult and pluripotent stem cells. His groups’ quantitative, bioengineering-based approach strives to gain new insight into the fundamental mechanisms that control stem cell fate and to develop robust technologies for the use of stem cells and their derivatives to treat disease. Specific areas of research focus include blood stem cell expansion and the generation of cardiac tissue and endoderm progenitors from pluripotent stem cells. Dr. Zandstra is a Professor in the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering, the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry, and the Donnelly Centre at the University of Toronto. He is also a member of the McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine and the Heart and Stroke/Richard Lewar Centre of Excellence. He currently acts as Chief Scientific Officer for the Centre for the Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (www.CCRM.ca). Dr Zandstra’s accomplishments have been recognized by a number of awards and accolades including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the McLean Award. Dr Zandstra’s strong commitment to training the next generation of researchers is evidenced by his role as the Director of the undergraduate Bioengineering Program.