Originally trained as a civil engineer, I’ve always been interested in building structures. When I was young, I was fascinated by structures like bridges and skyscrapers. Over time, my interests began to gravitate towards nanotechnologies when I did my master’s studies in materials science and engineering at Stanford University. At the time, just as now, life in Silicon Valley was deeply influenced by computers and the internet. And I wanted to play my own role in this boom. And then the technology bubble suddenly popped in the early 2000’s and I began to think about what are the fundamental challenges that engineering can help us to solve?
During my doctoral studies in chemical engineering also at Stanford, I gradually began to find my own answer to this question as I explored the development of engineered biomaterials to replace human body parts. Specifically, I was interested in how polymers can serve as scaffolds to host liver cells. With millions of people in the world suffering from end-stage liver disease, there is urgent need to create artificial livers and this keeps me and my team motivated through late nights in the lab. The potential is huge to save human lives.
Taking a broader perspective, tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary research field that combines materials and cellular technologies in order to mimic the functions of human body parts. One of the most exciting applications in this field is regenerative medicine, which focuses on the repair of human tissues and organs. Another emerging application is the creation of physiologically relevant model systems to study how diseases occur and to develop new treatments. At NTU, researchers from across the university community are working to develop the next-generation of engineered tissues that replicate the functionality of human organs ranging from the heart and liver to skin and bone. The blog is an informal spot for us to share our thoughts and ideas within our community and with the public. Please feel free to contribute and we hope to hear from you!
Head, NITHM Tissue Engineering Programme
Deputy Director (Operations), NITHM
Nanyang Associate Professor, Nanyang Technological University
Visiting Associate Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine