EventDr. Altuğ Özçelikkale

Multiscale Mechanics and Transport in Tissue Microenvironment: Path to Biomimicry and Physiological Relevance in Engineered Cell Culture Platforms

Under physiological conditions, cells are surrounded by a tissue microenvironment that provides a diverse set of cues for cells to survive, proliferate and fulfill their specific biological functionality. Unlike the conventional petri dish typically used to study cells in vitro, the tissue microenvironment is highly complex, presenting cells with hierarchically organized materials with low mechanical stiffness as well as biochemical agents that are delivered by transport processes. In addition, the microenvironment is actively remodeled by cells resulting in tissue-dependent properties that are also distinct between health and disease and even across patients. Therefore, artificial recapitulation of the tissue microenvironment at preclinical laboratory settings is greatly desired. However, efforts to develop in vitro cell culture platforms that mimic the tissue microenvironment have been with limited success due to our lack of proper understanding of the mechanics and transport processes within the physiological settings as well as challenges to develop tools to implement similar conditions in vitro. In this talk, I will address those roadblocks one component at a time by providing insights from my research on basic science of cell and tissue cryopreservation as well as cancer drug delivery and immune cell mechanobiology. Eventually developing in vitro cell culture platforms with high physiological relevance will not only be useful for investigating problems in cell biology that are difficult or impossible to study using traditional assays but also pave the road for predictive preclinical models for rapid and patient-specific evaluation of biomedical therapy and treatments.

Graphical Abstract

About The Speaker


Altug Ozcelikkale holds a Ph.D. from Purdue University, School of Mechanical Engineering as well as a M.S. and a B.S. (summa cum laude) in Mechanical Engineering from Middle East Technical University (METU). He is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate at University of Maryland College Park, Department of Physics. His research interests span freezing biophysics, cancer drug delivery and mechanobiology where he aims to bring together continuum mechanics and heat/mass transport with biology and medicine to develop novel engineered cell culture platforms for studying cellular behavior and evaluating medical therapy and treatments with high fidelity. He has 14 articles published in peer-reviewed journals such as Journal of Controlled Release, Journal of Computational Physics, and PLOS ONE. His work on a 3D engineered tumor model, T-MOC, was featured on ASME Mechanical Engineering Magazine.