Graphic illustrating medium flow of cancer cells on OSB cells

Vision

My research interest resides with creating new devices using nanotechnology and microfluidics for transformative use and societal impact. The current focus of my lab is to develop and validate microfluidic-based 3D human tissue models (i.e., “human tissue on chip”) that can be used as a new means of studying inflammatory and infectious diseases and developing novel therapy.

Human Bone Marrow on Chip

In collaboration with researchers at Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH), my overarching research goals for the past ten years have been to:

  • Reproduce ex vivo the pathophysiological interactions among cancer, stroma, and immune cells in bone marrow,
  • Bring new insights into poorly understood mechanisms of drug-resistant survival of multiple myeloma and prostate cancer cells that metastasizes to bone marrow, and
  • Study how tumor cells evade immunity so immunotherapy can be developed to be more efficacious.

Our studies to date suggest that osteoblasts support the survival of drug-resistant and immune-evading cancer cells in bone marrow. Based on this understanding, we are currently exploring novel immunotherapy strategies targeted at the protective and immunoregulating role of osteoblasts. See the illustration and our publications.

Graphic illustrating how osteoblasts support cancer cells in bone marrow

Human Lung on Chip

Inspired by the unprecedented challenge caused by Covid-19 to humanity, we have begun to study the role of “cytokine storm” in the progression of alveolar blood barrier dysfunction and pulmonary edema by developing and using a human lung tissue model. Our focus will be to develop and evaluate therapeutic strategies aimed at modulating overly reactive immune response in respiratory infectious diseases.

Spirit of Innovation

My lab is located on the bank of the Hudson River in New Jersey with a spectacular view of Manhattan, New York. At this world-class location, my students and I are actively pursuing collaboration, translation, and entrepreneurship aimed at realizing the transformative use of our ideas. Notably, my lab has produced seven winners of the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame Graduate Student Award over the past decade.

Interdisciplinary Perspective

After my formal training in Chemical Engineering, I began my career by studying new materials for aerospace propulsion and power generation applications while working at United Technologies and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. For my contribution in this field, I was elected to Fellow of the American Ceramic Society. About twenty years ago, I became fascinated about using microfluidic approaches to: (1) assemble nanomaterials such as graphene for energy storage and wearable sensor applications and (2) study bacteria interactions with host tissue cells and biomaterials. In 2020, I assumed my current role as Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology to: (1) place more focus on my biomedical research endeavor and (2) provide my interdisciplinary perspective to position the Department as an intellectual nexus at the intersection of science, engineering, and medicine.