Abstract: This presentation will focus on the interface between nanoscience and stem cell biology. Even though it is well-established that stem cell fate is regulated by interactions that occur between microenvironmental cues and intrinsic cellular programs, our understanding of the function of the microenvironment and gene expression in stem cells is hampered by the limitations of conventional methods and the lack of extensive knowledge of multiple regulatory signals.
Addressing these challenges, the goal of our recent research program is to develop both approaches from nanotechnology—the “top-down” patterning of extracellular matrix (ECM) and signal molecules (e.g. ECM compositions, nanotopography, pattern geometry, and pattern density), and the “bottom-up” synthesis of multifunctional nanoparticles and their surface modification with specific signal molecules, which can be combined synergistically. Addressing the aforementioned challenges, our research mainly focuses on the synthesis and utilization of multifunctional nanoparticles as drug and gene delivery vehicles to manipulate the expression of key genes in stem cells and somatic cells for cellular reprogramming. Another approach includes combinatorial nanoarrays of graphene-nanoparticle hybrid structures using nanoparticles and chemically derived graphene and graphene-nanofiber hybrid scaffolds were developed and utilized to deliver genetic materials into stem cells for controlling their neural-differentiation pathways and neuronal behaviors.