Engineered Biomaterials-Based Solutions for Breast Cancer Applications

Date(s) - 10/07/2019
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Communicore, C1-15

Cheryl T. Gomillion, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Chemical, Materials, & Biomedical Engineering, University of Georgia

Breast cancer remains one of the most significant health problems worldwide. While survival rates have improved as a result of increased screening leading to earlier detection, once these tumor cells metastasize or spread to other parts of the body, survival rates are significantly reduced. These occurrences are even more detrimental for patients from certain ethnic groups, as disparities in breast cancer patient outcomes, often attributed to their specific cancer subtype and patient ethnicity, exist. Numerous factors are known to affect breast cancer tumorigenesis, proliferation, and metastasis; however, it is still not fully understood what role biophysical and biochemical cues from the mammary microenvironment play in these processes, or how genetic factors may be intertwined.

In vitro model systems have long been used in biomedical research for evaluating factors affecting cell behavior and identifying key mechanisms regulating cell processes. Our research has primarily focused on creating physiologically-relevant three-dimensional (3D) models of mammary tissue using hydrogel-based scaffolds to replicate the physical properties of mammary tissues in conjunction with presenting biochemical factors present in the tumor microenvironment. Specifically, with a large proportion of the breast consisting of adipose tissue, we aim to apply our fabricated 3D model to appropriately condition cells for studying the effects of adipocyte-related factors on tumor cell metastasis. Our long-term goal is to develop a customizable platform for breast cancer metastasis that could be used for potential biomarker identification or determination of better therapeutic treatment options. This talk will highlight studies performed to establish the hydrogel-based system and preliminary studies towards elucidating the role of these biochemical and biophysical factors on this disease.


Dr. Cheryl T. Gomillion is Assistant Professor in the School of Chemical, Materials, & Biomedical Engineering, part of the College of Engineering at the University of Georgia (UGA). She received her B.S. in Biosystems Engineering with an emphasis in Applied Biotechnology from Clemson University, and she completed both her Master’s and Ph.D. in Bioengineering at Clemson University. In 2011, she transitioned to the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) for a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Reconstructive Sciences, and following the completion of her fellowship at UCHC, Dr. Gomillion transitioned to a Postdoctoral Associate position at Yale University School of Medicine in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in 2014.

Dr. Gomillion joined the faculty at UGA in 2015. Her long-standing research interests are in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Specifically, the work of her research group focuses on three general areas: (1) design and application of biomaterial scaffolds to study cell-biomaterial interactions and to provide cues for directing cell behavior for tissue regeneration; (2) application of engineered tissues for aesthetic and functional tissue replacements; and (3) advanced application of tissue engineering strategies for developing in vitro tissue pre-clinical models for studying disease systems.