Systems Biology of Cells in Engineered Environments

An NSF IGERT Program at the University of Delaware

Program Overview

Significant progress has been made in the design and synthesis of engineered environments to direct and control cell function and phenotype.  The effort invested to understand how cells behave and respond to such engineered environments is motivated by a wide variety of applications including work on nanotechnology for drug delivery, tissue engineering, and stem cells.  These areas have at their core the need to understand and control cellular interactions with the "engineered" environment (EE) and progress in this work promises new technologies to understand cell development and differentiation.

While there is a productive, global community of scientists and students working in the EE area, a key emphasis often not considered is the genome-scale molecular changes that occur inside cells that are exposed to various engineered environments. A better understanding of the changes in cellular programs at the global scale, as cells respond or adapt to various conditions, could lead to better insights into how the engineered environment may be controlling cellular phenotype. System Biology (SB) techniques, such as next generation sequencing, proteomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics and modeling frameworks, offer unprecedented access to, and understanding of, intracellular responses. However, these two independent scientific communities have not synergized effectively at the national or international level.  There remains a lack of programmatic synergy in the co-development of SB and EE to specifically interrogate and manipulate important cellular signaling events.

This interdisciplinary training program will connect these two research areas and prepare students to carry out research on Cells in Engineered Environments (EE) using the technologies and approaches of Systems Biology (SB). The focus is on the application of SB approaches – methods that are molecular, genome scale, and intracellular – to examine cell responses to EE relevant to various applications – nanotechnology for drug delivery, tissue engineering, and stem cells. In addition to equipping Scholars with an integrated set of SB & EE tools, students will gain a broad scientific perspective, as well as training outside of the laboratory in business, ethics, innovation, and communication.

IGERT fellows must be admitted to a Ph.D. program in a participating department at the University of Delaware (see list here).  Special consideration is given to enhance the involvement of under-represented students. Application procedures can be found here.

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  • IGERT  •   15 Innovation Way  •   Newark, DE 19711  •   USA
    Phone: 302-831-3431  •   E-mail: SBE2IGERT@udel.edu