For many years after its inception, the field of tissue engineering remained focused solely upon the generation of healthy tissues to repair or replace damaged organs. However, in recent years, the field has evolved to recognize the wide-ranging and near-term impacts that can be achieved through the application of tissue engineering techniques to model disease. My lab creates biomaterial platforms that mimic features of diseased tissue microenvironments, with a specific focus on how the composition and architecture of the extracellular matrix (ECM) influence disease progression. We merge the more traditional bottom-up construction of 3-D biomaterial scaffolds with a new top-down approach of ECM-editing ex vivo organ cultures and apply these platforms to decipher the cues responsible for regulating disease pathogenesis. Our lab employs these disease-mimicking environments to study a wide range of tissues, with the current presentation focusing upon our recent progress in deciphering disease mechanisms related to breast cancer and heart valve fibrosis.
Kristyn Masters is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor and Vice-Chair in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She earned her B.S. from the University of Michigan and her PhD from Rice University, both in Chemical Engineering. In the Masters’ Lab, researchers combine engineering tools with biological knowledge to create in vitro models of disease, with a specific focus on cardiovascular dysfunction and cancer. In addition to her research activities, Dr Masters has received numerous teaching awards and has leadership roles in teaching and mentoring programs.