Encapsulating synthetic cells in extracellular matrix systems (MEP)
Human tissues are complex combinations of multiple polymeric systems. Within the cell, the cytoskeleton contains key structural components which confer on the cell its shape and mechanical response. Outside the cell, the extracellular matrix confers structural and mechanical properties on the tissue as a whole. One of the most important components of the extracellular matrix is collagen, a fibrous protein which can form mechanically robust networks. In our lab we take a bottom-up approach to understand these complex systems. In that regard, we design Giant Unilamellar Vesicles (GUVs) with controlled internal components as a synthetic cell. Additionally, we aim to understand the mechanics of tissues as a whole by designing synthetic extracellular matrix materials using purified components such as collagen or hyaluronic acid.
In this project, you will combine synthetic cells with a synthetic extracellular matrix. Through this we aim to understand how each component of a tissue contributes overall to the tissues mechanical and structural properties.