Human Embryonic Stem Cells: Towards Fate Control Through Gene Delivery and Microenvironment
Human pluripotent stem cells hold tremendous potential in the field of regenerative medicine. However, in order for these human pluripotent stem cells to be clinically applicable, these pluripotent stem cells must be safely and effectively controlled. The fate of stem cells has been widely directed by external soluble factors and gene overexpression. The commonly used viruses hold very limited clinical translation potential due to their safety and random integration into the genome. I aim to develop novel and efficient polymers and methods for nano-complexes to transiently deliver DNA into hESCs and IMR90s for gene overexpression. My second aim focuses on controlling stem cell fate by changing the physical properties of the microenvironment, through the mechanics and chemistries of the substrate or scaffold. Integrating the three different fields of material science, cell and developmental biology, and mechanical engineering, I aim to apply a combinatorial approach using gene expression, soluble factors, and physical properties to create both 2D and 3D microenvironments to control stem cell fate.