Engineering Stem Cells from "Inside-out" and from "Outside-in": a Biomaterials-mediated Approach

Friday, January 29, 2016 - 11:45am
Fung Auditorium, Powell-Focht Bioengineering Hall
Fan Yang, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Bioengineering and Orthopaedic Surgery

Stanford University

Engineering Stem Cells from "Inside-out" and from "Outside-in": a Biomaterials-mediated Approach


Stem cells are attractive cell sources for regenerative medicine due to their unique capacity of differentiation, as well as their ability to contribute to tissue repair via “homing” to the site of injury or paracrine signaling. In this talk, I will discuss examples of our research on how to employ biomaterials as powerful tools to: (1) engineer stem cells from “inside-out” using biodegradable polymeric nanoparticles, or (2) engineering stem cells from “outside-in” via constructing biomimetic 3D niche to modulate cell-cell interactions or cell-matrix interactions for enhanced tissue regeneration. Using a “lego-building” approach, our platforms allow fabrication of biomaterials modules with independently tunable cell niche properties including biochemical, mechanical and topographical cues. Such biomaterials can provide useful tools to help elucidate the mechanisms by which stem cells receive information from the multi-factorial microenvironment. The results of such studies can also aid in the rational design of optimal niche to promote desirable cellular phenotype and tissue regeneration. Potential applications of such biomaterials-mediated approaches for enhancing stem cell-based tissue repair for therapeutic angiogenesis or treating musculoskeletal diseases will be demonstrated using relevant animal models.


Fan Yang is currently an Assistant Professor at Stanford University in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering. Prior to joining Stanford, Dr. Yang received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Prof. Robert Langer at MIT. Her research seeks to understand how microenvironmental cues regulate stem cell fate, and to develop novel biomaterials and stem cell-based therapeutics for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Examples of applications include therapies for musculoskeletal diseases, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Dr. Yang has been recognized by multiple awards including the Mission for Learning Faculty Scholar Award in Pediatric Translational Medicine, Young Investigator Award in Cell and Gene Therapy for Cancer, Donald E. and Delia B. Baxter Faculty Scholar Award, the McCormick Faculty Award, Stanford Asian American Faculty Award, the 3M Nontenured Faculty Award and the Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award etc. In recognition of her innovation, she was also selected to be one of 2011 TR35 Global list honorees by Technology Review, which recognizes the world’s 35 most outstanding innovators who are younger than 35.