Cell & Tissue Engineering Research

Mechanobiology and Soft Materials Laboratory

Primary Investigator: Kartik Balachandran, Ph.D.

The MSML investigates the role of mechanical forces on physiology, function and disease. In particular, we are interested in understanding the interaction between structure and mechanics in regulating biological responses at different length-scales. We employ micro- and nano-fabrication tools to recreate the cellular and tissue environment in the laboratory. We also utilize live imaging, cell/tissue mechanics and tissue engineering techniques to understand several cardiovascular bioengineering problems including cardiac valve calcification, valve fusion and blood-brain barrier dysfunction. Knowledge gained from these studies will help guide the development of medical interventions and regenerative therapies. For more information, please visit the lab website.

Cardiovascular Biomechanics Laboratory


Primary Investigators: Morten Jensen, Ph.D., Dr.Med. & Hanna Jensen, M.D., Ph.D.

Understanding etymology of disease while creating solutions and dedicated devices is the primary focus of biomedical engineering.  The CB Lab is an interdisciplinary environment that focuses on building the bridge between the clinical and engineering worlds with an innovative approach to solving critical problems. Using modalities such as ultrasound and MRI combined with research techniques for measuring biomechanical parameters in soft tissue, the results from this work has been adopted by the NIH guidelines for designing certain repair devices for heart surgery. The lab employs both in vivo and in vitro techniques to deliver the best possible solutions that will eventually benefit patients. Our team has more than 20 years of combined academic, clinical and industry experience, providing the optimal balance for surgical technique and device development for cardiovascular intervention. For more information, please visit us at cblab.uark.edu.

Precision Genome Engineering Laboratory

Nelson_research_1Primary Investigator: Christopher Nelson, Ph.D.

The goal of our research group is to develop next-generation gene therapies for debilitating and fatal genetic diseases. Specifically, we are interested in developing safe and effective strategies to deliver CRISPR/Cas9 to target cells and tissues. We are also interested in applying genome engineering to control aberrant gene expression. For more information, please contact nelsonc@uark.edu or visit our website.     




Stem Cell Bioengineering Laboratory

stem_labPrimary Investigator: Raj Rao, Ph.D.

The overall goal of the Stem Cell Bioengineering Laboratory is to combine the principles of stem cell biology, biomaterial science, molecular and cell biology and tissue engineering to contribute to better understanding of stem cell properties, development of novel stem cell bioprocessing strategies and enabling technologies towards applications in regenerative medicine. For more information, please visit the lab website.  


Therapeutic Testbed Engineering Laboratory 

Immunohistochemical image of a rat lung sectionPrimary Investigator: Young Hye Song, Ph.D.

The overall goal of our research program is to develop pro-regenerative scaffolds and in vitro disease models using naturally derived biomaterials and innate cellular capabilities. In disease angle, we are interested in 1) understanding the role of cancer-nerve crosstalk in pro-tumorigenic transformation of the tumor microenvironment and eventually metastasis and 2) determining the specific roles of tumor-derived microvesicles in potentiating these changes. In the regenerative medicine angle, we are primarily interested in harnessing stem cell-derived physicochemical cues in creating pro-regenerative scaffolds that replicate tissue-specific biochemical and topographical features. By performing thorough investigations both in vitro and in vivo, we can utilize these models to gain a better understanding of healthy and diseased/traumatic states, and ultimately develop novel therapeutics to improve patient outcomes. For more information, please visit our lab website.

Regenerative Biomaterials Laboratory

wolchok_labPrimary Investigator: Jeff Wolchok, Ph.D.

The Regenerative Biomaterials Lab uses cells to build biomaterials that mimic the properties of human tissue. We are currently exploring the use of these biomaterials for the treatment of damaged muscle. Our group also investigates the effects of traumatic brain injury at the cellular level using a novel benchtop "crash tester".