Eugenia Kumacheva's Polymers, Interfaces, and Materials Science Group

Polymers in biological systems

1. Creating biological environments to program stem cell and cancer cell fate

We are developing polymer-based hydrogels for 3D cell culture. We are interested in exploring the role of hydrogel chemical and biophysical properties on cell fate. We are particularly interested in supramolecular nanofibrillar hydrogels. We are combining polymer-focused research with microfluiidics to gain the ability of high-throughput screening of drugs or impact of hydrogel properties on cell fate.

Representative publications

·       Wang et al. Two-dimensional Arrays of Cell-laden Polymer Hydrogel Modules. Biomicrofluidics 10, 014110 (2016).

·       Chau et al. Ion-Mediated Gelation of Aqueous Suspensions of Cellulose Nanocrystals. Biomacromolecules  16, 2455–2462 (2015).

·       Chau et al.  Microfluidic Generation of Composite Biopolymer Microgels with Tunable Compositions and Mechanical Properties. Biomacromolecules 15, 2419-2425 (2014).

·       Zamora-Mora et al. Chitosan/Agarose Hydrogels: Cooperative Properties And Microfluidic Preparation. Carbohydrate Polymers 111, 348-355 (2014).

·       Rao et al. The European Mol. Biol. Org. (EMBO) Journal 26, 4744.4755 (2007).

2. Development of conductive hydrogels

In this collaborative recent project we synthesize conductive hydrogels that upon injection, should overcome the negative impact of necrotic tissue in heart.

3. Development of microfluidic models of thromboembolism and thrombolysis

Our group has pioneered continuous microfluidic synthesis of polymer particles with exquisite control of their size, composition, shape and morphology (see our paper in Angew. Chem (2005) and follow up papers. Currently, we are using these particles (made from biological polymers) to study thromboembolism and thromolysis.  This question is of immense importance as  the structure and properties of e.g., fibrin hydrogels and their behavior in narrow blood vessels determine the properties of blood clots that cause myocardial infarctions, strokes and pulmonary embolism. On the other hand, embolization of blood capillaries with polymer hydrogel particles can be used to reduce blood supply to tumor sites.

Representative publications

·     Li et al. Universal Behavior of Hydrogels Confined to Narrow Capillaries. Scientific Reports 5, 17017 (2015).

·     Li et al.  The Motion of a Microgel in an Axisymmetric Constriction with a Tapered Entrance. Soft Matt. 9, 10391-10403 (2013).

·     Fiddes et al. A Circular Cross-Section PDMS Microfluidics System for Replication of Cardiovascular Flow Conditions. Biomaterials 13, 3459-3464 (2010).

·     Xu et al. Generation of Monodisperse Particles Using Microfluidics: Control over Size, Shape and Composition. Angew. Chemie Intnl. Ed. 44, 724-728 (2005).