BME Seminar Series: Zhen Ma, Syracuse University

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Zhen Ma, Ph.D.


Engineering Synthetic-Living Interface for Cells and Organoids

Abstract: Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) have altered the landscape of regenerative medicine and developmental biology. My lab focuses on the integration of biomaterial interface and hiPSC technology to develop biological model systems for deeper understanding of cell and tissue development under engineered microenvironment. We have developed a spatial-organized stem cell organoid model that captures the dynamic process of early human heart development. To elucidate structure-function relationship for cardiac organoids, we applied advanced data mining techniques for analysis and visualization of sophisticated, large-scale “Physiomics” datasets from these organoids. Our organoid model also showed multi-lineage induction with co-emergent cell specification of cardiac, stromal and hepatic lineages, which recaptured the parallel organ development of the heart-liver synergy. To leverage recent advances in active programmable biomaterials, we also study how a dynamic changing extracellular microenvironment influences the cardiomyocyte remodeling. We created a dynamic cell culture substrate based on shape memory polymer that can achieve flat-to-wrinkle transition for on-demand alignment of cardiomyocytes, which enables broadly studying time-dependent mechano-structural cues for dynamic cardiomyocyte mechanobiology.

Bio: Zhen Ma is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical & Chemical Engineering and the BioInspired Syracuse Institute for Materials and Living System at Syracuse University. Ma received his Ph.D. in bioengineering from Clemson University, and then worked as a postdoc at UC Berkeley. Ma joined Syracuse University as a faculty member in 2016. He received Lush Prize Young Researcher at Americas from Lush Cosmetics, NSF CAREER award and 2021 CMBE Rising Star award.