BME Lecture Series: Janet Zoldan, University of Texas at Austin
Abstract: Stem cells are becoming an important component of approaches for regenerative medicine, especially within the rapidly expanding field of tissue engineering. To unlock the full therapeutic potential of these cells, it is necessary to develop new approaches to direct their in-situ growth and differentiation toward functional tissue. In this talk, I will describe efforts to achieve this aim by developing extracellular stem cell microenvironments designed to present biophysical and biochemical cues to direct stem cell differentiation to cardiovascular lineage. First, I will describe the development extracellular stem cell microenvironment with incorporated anisotropy, as a biophysical cue, and the response of developing cardiomyocytes to substrate anisotropy. Second, I will demonstrate the impact of high glucose, as a biochemical cue, on cardiovascular specification and maturation. These engineered environments can serve as platforms for fundamental research in tissue development, disease mechanisms, or drug testing and hold potential for in-situ tissue regeneration applications.
Bio: Janet Zoldan received her bachelor's degree in chemistry from the Hebrew University and then pursued her master’s degree and doctorate in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Department of Materials Engineering, specializing in polymer science. For her postdoctoral training, she joined Robert Langer’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the Langer lab, she focused on nucleic acid delivery to human embryonic stem cells and protein microfluidic delivery. In 2013, Zoldan joined the University of Texas at Austin as an assistant professor. Research in the Zoldan lab focuses on human induced pluripotent stem cells as a model system to explore key principles underlying cardiovascular tissue formation processes and regenerating ischemic tissue. She has recently received the prestigious Scientist Development Grant from the American Heart Association and was named a 2017 Emerging Investigator by the Journal of Biomaterials Science.