The field of tissue engineering has progressed to the point where we can now build living micromachines.
Biomachines can be engineered to function autonomously, can be integrated into humans for regenerative medicine purposes or body augmentation, and can be used as testing grounds for studying disease pathology and drug effectiveness. Two main challenges to achieving such systems are (1) maintaining cell viability and functionality when fabricating arbitrarily complex parts with desired biochemical and mechanical properties and (2) vascularization, allowing the components to nourish and communicate with one another.
In the Zorlutuna Lab, we use tissue engineering, biomimetic materials, microfabrication, stem cells, and genetic engineering to address these issues. Such bio-inspired systems will have impact on not only tissue regeneration applications, but also on emerging fields of research in bioengineering, ranging from bio-robotics to disease modeling.