Engineering Cell Microenvironments for Cancer and Stem Cells

Friday, October 9, 2020 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
Keyue Shen, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Viterbi School of Engineering
University of Southern California

Engineering Cell Microenvironments for Cancer and Stem Cells


Host microenvironments play key regulatory roles in cancer progression and stem cell homeostasis. In vivo, tissue structure and local cell-cell/cell-matrix interactions define the microenvironment and regulate cellular phenotypes and metabolism. Identification of the precise microenvironmental cues that trigger phenotypic or metabolic changes in cells will thus enable discovery of new targets for cancer therapy or tissue regeneration. However, it is challenging to pinpoint such cues in a complex in vivo microenvironment. Our laboratory is focused on creating biologically inspired in vitro platforms to capture the scale of cell signaling in tissue microenvironments from subcellular to tissue levels, and discover novel therapeutics for human diseases. By integrating micro-/nano-technologies, biomaterials, biomechanics, cell/tissue engineering, single-cell technologies, and metabolic imaging, we reveal a new role of tumor microenvironment in regulating mitochondrial activities in cancer cells, and the efficacy of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells to solid tumors. We also discover distinct metabolic and morphological features of hematopoietic stem cells and their responses to stromal cues through non-invasive imaging and biomimicry lipid membranes.


Dr. Keyue Shen received his Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Biophysics from Tsinghua University of China. He earned his Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University in 2010. He then pursued postdoctoral training in the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, where he won an MGH Fund for Medical Discovery Award. Keyue joined the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California in 2015. He received a Broad Innovation Award from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation (2016), a Marni Levine Memorial Research Career Development Award from STOP CANCER (2017), a Trailblazer Award from the NIH NIBIB (2017), and a Rising Star Award from the Biomedical Engineering Society – Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Conference (2020). His research is currently supported by NIH NIBIB and NCI. His research interests are in creating in vitro tissue models of preinvasive and/or hypoxic tumors to understand cancer progression and metastasis, and bone marrow niches for improving hematopoietic stem cell transplantation and biomanufacturing.