University of Pittsburgh
Associate Professor, Department of Bioengineering
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Type 1 diabetes results from the auto-immune destruction of inulin secreting cells of the pancreas – the beta cells within Islets of Langerhans. Exogenous supply of insulin is a commonplace procedure in regulating blood glucose levels in diabetic patients. Alternately, cell replacement therapies such as pancreas and islet transplants offer a more permanent solution to maintain blood glycemic control. However cell therapy is restricted by the availability of donor tissue, which can be overcome by deriving insulin producing cells from a regenerative cell source, like pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). With the current advancement of PSC-derived cell therapy from the laboratory to Phase 1 clinical trials, there is an enhanced emphasis on deriving mature and functional islets from hPSCs in a robust and reproducible manner. In parallel to regenerative therapy, there is also a strong emphasis to reproduce disease phenotypes in vitro, using microphysiology systems (MPS) models in tissue chip platforms. Once developed and validated, these models will be invaluable platforms for interrogating disease mechanisms as well as supplementing drug discovery and drug testing activities. Appropriate functioning of the MPS models, however, will largely rely upon successful derivation of mature and functional cells/ tissues/ organs from hPSCs.
Our research focuses on a range of tissue, organ and organoid engineering strategies for deriving pancreatic islet like cells from hPSCs. We have developed cell encapsulation strategies for scalable culture of hPSCs and its subsequent differentiation to islet like clusters. We have introduced systems engineering techniques to identify robust conditions for hPSC propagation. In a collaborative team we have designed novel hydrogel substrate to synthesize controlled, multicellular organoids from hPSCs resembling pancreatic islets. We are currently developing strategies to induce in-vitro microvascular network formation within the stem cell derived islet organoids. This talk will highlight ways in which our laboratory has integrated natural and synthetic materials to engineer the cellular environment to closely mimic the natural islet environment. Our current efforts on developing MPS models for Diabetes will also be discussed.
Ipsita Banerjee is an Associate Professor of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, Bioengineering and McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. Banerjee obtained her BS in Chemical Engineering from Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India and MS from Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. She earned her PhD degree in Chemical Engineering from Rutgers University with Professor Marianthi Ierapetritou in 2005. Subsequently she joined Professor Martin Yarmush’s Center for Engineering in Medicine (CEM) at Massachusetts General Hospital as a post-doctoral fellow. In 2008, Banerjee joined University of Pittsburgh. Her laboratory has primarily focused on bioengineering of pluripotent stem cells for cell therapy of Diabetes. Specifically she has focused on cell-cell, cell-materials, cell-extracellular matrix interactions, and systems biology of stem cell propagation and differentiation. Banerjee is the recipient of NIH New Innovator Award, ORAU Ralph E. Powe Faculty Award, Faculty Mentor Award from the Office of Diversity at the University of Pittsburgh. She was also selected to participate in the NAE Frontiers for Engineering Education Symposium.