Engineering Immunomodulatory Biomaterials

Date(s) - 11/17/2016
9:30 am

Wendy Liu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California Irvine

Engineering Immunomodulatory Biomaterials



The immune response to implanted materials remains a critical challenge for the development of biomaterials used in medical devices and regenerative medicine.  Understanding this response and designing better biomaterials requires a multidisciplinary approach involving  materials engineering and immunology.  Our laboratory combines microscale technologies with synthetic and natural polymers to control the physical and biochemical properties of biomaterials.  We are interested in understanding how material properties regulate the function of immune cells, particularly macrophages, versatile regulators of the innate immune system that are involved in inflammation, wound healing, and tissue regeneration.   We are then utilizing knowledge about how the microenvironment influences immune function to create improved materials for medical devices and tissue engineering.   In this talk, I will describe two primary areas in which we are currently focused.  First, we are examining how physical features of the extracellular microenvironment, including adhesion geometry, topology and matrix composition, influence the function of macrophages, We have leveraged these features in engineering materials to encourage macrophage-mediated wound healing.  In a second approach, we are utilizing biomolecules expressed by host tissue to promote immune tolerance to biomaterial surfaces. Our ultimate goal is to create materials that control local immune cells and modulate the host response to implanted devices.



Wendy Liu is an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California Irvine.  After earning her B.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT in 2000, Lui attended the Johns Hopkins University, where she obtained her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering in 2007 as a National Science Fellow.  Her doctoral work was completed in the laboratory of Dr. Christopher Chen.  Following her Ph.D., Lui completed postdoctoral positions at Arsenal Medical Inc., a biomedical start-up company developing cardiovascular devices, and at MIT, where she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Robert Langer.

Lui’s research program is centered around understanding immune cell-biomaterial interactions and developing immunomodulatory biomaterials for medical devices.  Her work has been recognized by a number of awards including the 2012 National Institutes of Health New Innovator Award, the 2013 BMES-CMBE Rising Star Award, and the 2014 UCI HSSoE Junior Faculty Research Award.