Cellular Engineering

We are developing new cell engineering and biomolecular tools that can expand the repertoire of cellular control, accelerate drug discovery, control stem cell fate and function, and develop 3D and spheroid cell culture platforms.


Immunotherapy has emerged as a promising approach to treating several forms of cancer. Use of immune cells, such as natural killer (NK) cells, along with small molecule drugs and antibodies through antibody dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) has been investigated as a potential combination therapy for some difficult to treat solid tumors.
Xenobiotics, including drugs and chemicals, undergo metabolism in the body as a key step in the process of elimination. A primary site of metabolism is the liver, which carries out xenobiotic metabolism. We are investigating the influence of circadian rhythms in the expression of cytrochromes P450 (CYP450s), which are critical enzymes in first-pass drug metabolism. Indeed, it is known that pharmacokinetic profiles can vary within a 24 h cycle, thus denoting a rhythmic expression of CYP450 enzymes. Despite the number of in vivo studies, initial drug discovery and development, as well as early-stage toxicity studies, the use of in vitro models have largely ignored the influence of the molecular circadian clock, particularly in three-dimensional (3D) cell models.
Deciphering and controlling the wealth of intrinsic (e.g., expressed transcription factors) and extrinsic (e.g., chemicals and growth factors) signals involved in the self-renewal and differentiation of stem cells remains a challenge in cell biology that is hampering the use of stem cells in screening and clinical applications.
We have developed new tools to interrogate the effects of small molecules on biological function. These include cell- and protein-based high-throughput screening, on chip immunoassays and high-throughput biocatalysis on a microarray platform.
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