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Columbia engineer observes surprising behavior of cells during blood-vessel formation
Date:3/7/2011

s that "one possibility is simply random noise or naturally occurring fluctuations, which have been shown by other researchers to be important in producing biologically significant variations in gene expression and other subcellular processes. It's also possible there are subtle local variations in the extracellular environment that we're not aware of yet."

Sia says an application of this work is to exploit his technique to identify new drugs that modify angiogenesis. "A lot of drugs that either help or hinder blood-vessel formation have unknown mechanisms. This technique can potentially unravel some of those mechanisms, and help identify compounds that modulate specific aspects of how blood vessels form." In addition, knowledge of how individual cells behave will help in high-precision tissue engineering, an ongoing field of research in Sia's lab. "Knowledge of how individual cells or groups of cells behave enhances our understanding of how native tissues self-organize," he says. "This could ultimately enable more precise approaches for engineering complex multicellular tissues."

Sia was also named in 2010 by NASA as one of the ten innovators in human health and sustainability. In 2008, he received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation that included a $400,000 grant to support his other research specialty in three-dimensional tissue engineering. A recipient of the Walter H. Coulter Early Career Award in 2008, Sia participated in the National Academy of Engineering's U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium for the nation's brightest young engineers in 2007.

His research is focused on developing new high-resolution tools to control the extracellular environments around cells, in order to study how they interact to form human tissues and organs. His lab uses techniques from a number of different fields, including biochemistry, molecular biology, microfabrication, microfluidics, materials chemistry, and cell and tissue biology.
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Contact: Holly Evarts
holly@engineering.columbia.edu
212-854-3206
Columbia University
Source:Eurekalert

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