Cell Probe


Cell CAD


Cellular Legos


The Living Bioreactor



The variety of structures and functions available to multicellular organisms is vastly larger than that accessible to unicellular organisms. Multicellular organisms have evolved to execute more complex functions than are achievable by unicellular organisms because different cells can specialize to perform specialized subsets of tasks, for example manufacturing different components of a more complex chemical product or material in different cell types. This process is analogous to supply chain management issues confronted by multinational corporations where different components of a product are sourced from a variety of specialized factories. Multicellular structures form through programs of self-organization—a hallmark of living systems. Understanding and controlling the engineering principles underlying self-organization is therefore a requirement for building multicellular structures. However, these principles are incompletely understood, and have not yet been extensively exploited in traditional tissue engineering, which tends to focus on artificially fabricated scaffolds. We therefore aim to reveal core principles of tissue self-organization in existing living systems—including their mechanics, information processing, information flow—and to place them under engineering control to build consortia of interacting cells. These consortia will ultimately be applied to produce a new generation of living devices and materials with applications in chemical production, materials science, and nanotechnology.


Zev Gartner (Theme Lead)
Engineering multicellular assemblies

Wendell Lim
Engineering tissue self-assembly using synthetic receptors

Manu Prakash
Self organization in tissues and organisms

Dan Fletcher
Engineering cell-cell interactions

Laura Burrus
Long-range tissue signaling by filopodia

Wilfred Denetclaw
Mechanical and chemical signaling in tissues