Functional Tissue within Microfluidic Devices


Nicole Virdone

Microfluidic poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels for directed microvascular formation

Tissue engineered constructs are restricted to thin, simple tissues because nutrient delivery is limited to diffusion.  The goal of our research is to engineer and fabricate perusable prevascularized tissues in vitro through use of microfluidic functional hydrogels and self-assembling pro-vasculogenic co-cultures for ultimate use in tissue engineering applications in vivo.  We aim to control microvasculature network formation through varying biofunctional hydrogel composition and microchannel design.

Steve Higbee

My project focuses on cellular vascularization strategies in tissue engineering. Specifically, my work involves the formation of microvascular networks in biomimetic PEG hydrogels, in the presence of functional parenchymal cells (e.g. hepatocytes). Ultimately, I aim to engineer functional hepatic tissue with a microvasculature capable of supporting hepatocytes encapsulated throughout a hydrogel scaffold and capable of anastomosis with microfabricated conduits. Through the combination of fabricated channels and cell-formed microvasculature, we hope to increase the size scales over which tissue engineered implants remain functional and viable.

Hepatic (red) and vascular (green) structures form spontaneously when HUVECs, 10T½ cells, and HepG2 cells are encapsulated in a biomimetic PEG hydrogel.

Recent Publications:

  1. Cuchiara MP, Gould DJ, McHale MK, Dickinson ME, West JL, "Integration of Self-Assembled Microvascular Networks with Microfabricated PEG-Based Hydrogels."
    Adv Funct Mater. 2012 JUN 20.
  2. Cuchiara MP, Allen AC, Chen TM, Miller JS, West JL. "Multilayer microfluidic PEGDA hydrogels." Biomaterials. 2010 Jul; 31(21):5491-7.