Research Focus


Translational Medicine

Musculo-skeletal injuries are becoming increasingly prevalent, largely associated with the ageing population and other sports-related and traumatic injuries. This represents a major global disease burden, and an immense growth opportunity. Alternative solutions presented in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine offer hope to many patients. Our group focuses on translational work, gathering engineers, scientists and clinicians to work in a multidisciplinary platform towards tissue regeneration, remodeling and rejuvenation. We are actively exploring decellularization methods to derive biological scaffolds that are composed of extracellular matrix and devoid of donor DNA. Such scaffolds would maintain their mechanical properties and be able to integrate with existing tissue. One example is the conversion of fish waste into membranes and scaffolds for tissue regeneration. Our research involves the extraction of collagen from tilapia fish skin to fabricate electrospun collagen membranes for guided bone regeneration, and the decellularization of tilapia fish skin to obtain acellular scaffolds for skin regeneration. We understand the importance of studying developmental biology of tissues for paving the way towards functional tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. The group is working towards the development of an artificial eggshell model that is capable of sustaining chicken embryos. This model aims to provide an ideal transparent imaging platform for studying embryonic development and angiogenesis. Beyond investigating the biology of tissue development, we have developed several physiologically bio-mimicking bioreactor platforms to provide relevant fluid flow conditions and apply mechanical stimuli on 3D tissues to evoke appropriate tissue response and regeneration. Using appropriate mechano-induction strategies, we aim to promote cellular proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of the premature bone grafts. Clinically, the repair of critical size bone defects arising due to serious complications like trauma, inflammation and tumour surgery still remains a major challenge. We are working towards the development of a novel PCL-TCP based bone graft which can facilitate adaptation to the complex anatomical defect with minimized gap between graft and defect margin to prompt bone reconstruction in critical size bone defects.

Compared to man-made materials, many biological materials often exhibit multifunctionality and superior capabilities, with intricate and hierarchical structures. Thus, bioinspired design principles allow the development of new materials that are stiffer/stronger/tougher, adaptive or actuating, and/or more sustainable and environmentally benign across all length scales. Adopting the approach of using bioinspired material systems to understand the design principles of natural model systems, the lab works in the area of biomechanics, biomimetic design, prototyping and verification, and fabrication through both theoretical and experimental approaches.

A typical approach of bioinspired material systems in terms of a structure-property-function relationship for an understanding of design principles of natural model systems

Therapeutic cells, such as pancreatic islets for diabetes treatment, often suffer from decreased viability and function when transplanted into the body of recipients, due to the absence of supporting blood vessels. Our team seeks to overcome this limitation by re-programming the pancreatic islets’ modular micro-structures to optimize their cellular configuration for enhanced oxygen and nutrient transports.
Engineering approaches to designing therapeutic cellular and drug delivery systems

For understanding, detecting and treating life-threatening diseases, the group objective is to develop multifunctional platform technologies. Working towards this goal,the team take an interdisciplinary approach that brings together organic chemistry, nanotechnology and molecular biology to synthesize functional polymers, polish their optoelectronic and biochemical properties, and shape them into smart and biocompatible nanoagents for advanced molecular imaging and amplified therapy.
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In vivo imaging of reactive oxygen species


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