National Science FoundationNanosystems Engineering Research Center for Directed Multiscale Assembly of Cellular Metamaterials with Nanoscale Precision:
CELL-MET A National Science Foundation Research Center

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Synthesizing Personalized Heart Tissue for Clinical Use

The NSF Engineering Research Center in Cellular Metamaterials – CELL-MET – is designed to stimulate translation of research to practice by facilitating worldwide corporate, clinical, and institutional partnerships. CELL-MET—with Boston University as the lead institution— aims to transform cardiovascular care by combining breakthroughs in nanotechnology and manufacturing with tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, while also developing areas of expertise in education, diversity, administration, and outreach.

CELL-MET  will use the latest multiscale 3D printing technologies to engineer scaffolds that guide cells to assemble into complex tissues that exhibit desired behaviors. The scaffolds will incorporate actuators to apply dynamic electrical and mechanical signals as well as cellular “glues” that include biological signaling molecules, all of which can be chosen to foster desired activity of the cells and tissue. The researchers will also employ optogenetics and other imaging techniques to monitor and control cellular activity. The ultimate goal is to fabricate personalized heart tissue that could be used in the shorter term to test the efficacy of drugs and eventually to replace diseased or damaged muscle after a heart attack.

A cardiac patch. The ERC’s ultimate goal is to advance nano-bio-manufacturing methods that could lead to large-scale fabrication of functional heart tissue, which could replace diseased or damaged muscle after a heart attack. Illustration courtesy of Jeroen Eyckmans
A cardiac patch. The ERC’s ultimate goal is to advance nano-bio-manufacturing methods that could lead to large-scale fabrication of functional heart tissue, which could replace diseased or damaged muscle after a heart attack. Illustration courtesy of Jeroen Eyckmans

CELL-MET will be housed at Boston University, the lead institution on the grant. David Bishop, an ENG professor of electrical and computer engineering, a College of Arts & Sciences professor of physics, and head of ENG’s Division of Materials Science & Engineering, will direct the center. Two partner institutions—the University of Michigan and Florida International University—as well as six affiliate institutions—Harvard Medical School, Columbia University, the Wyss Institute at Harvard, Argonne National Laboratory, the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and the Centro Atómico Bariloche/Instituto Balseiro in Argentina—will offer additional expertise in bioengineering, nanotechnology, and other areas.

CELL-MET Partners

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