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Research Projects

Engineered Salivary Gland Tissue Chips

Engineered Salivary Gland Tissue ChipsFor more than 550,000 patients annually diagnosed with head and neck cancers worldwide, severe loss of salivary gland function (xerostomia) is an unavoidable outcome of radiation therapy. Efforts to discover effective radioprotective and regenerative strategies have been hampered by the inability to culture salivary gland secretory cells in vitro, due to loss of the secretory cell phenotype.

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Homeostasis and Regeneration

Homeostasis and RegenerationWe are working to identify cells involved in maintenance and regeneration of head and neck exocrine glands. We recently demonstrated that salivary gland homeostasis is based predominantly on self-duplication of differentiated secretory acinar cells. However, the mechanisms – and cell types- involved in gland regeneration remain unresolved.

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Radiation Damage and Radioprotective Strategies

Radiation Damage and Radioprotective StrategiesThe informed design and application of radioprotective strategies first requires a clear understanding of mechanisms underlying salivary gland damage. We use genetic mouse models, complemented with bioengineered tools, to address the unanswered questions regarding loss of salivary gland function, and in continuing efforts to design improved radioprotective strategies

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Cell-Based Therapies for Salivary Gland Dysfunction

Cell-Based Therapies for Salivary Gland DysfunctionThe salivary glands are composed of clustered secretory acinar cells, which drain into a ductal tree. Additional myoepithelial, neuronal, and endothelial cells provide structural framework. In collaboration with Dr. Danielle Benoit, Department of Biomedical Engineering, we are investigating the use of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) hydrogels as bioengineered scaffolds for salivary gland tissue engineering. Our investigations combine the use of genetic mouse models, and bioengineered hydrogels to discover conditions for cell viability and expansion for development of cell-based therapies

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