Our research is focused on designing and building hybrid materials and devices. Microscale soft biological constructs, which retain their unique biological functionalities, are being interfaced with robust synthetic components to develop two distinct technologies: (1) Active bionanomaterials and (2) Quantitative pharmacological devices.

Muscle on a chip

Primary Investigator: Anna Grosberg, Ph.D

The “heart on a chip” is a microdevice that encapsulates multiple pieces of laminar muscle for in vitro studies of tissue contractility, structural properties, and electrophysiological function (Grosberg A, et al. “Ensembles of engineered cardiac tissues for physiological and pharmacological study: Heart on a chip.” Lab Chip, 2011). The design of such microdevices will give researches and companies an ability to perform tissue scale in vitro experiments to test their cell’s function and/or the effect of pharmacological agents. We are currently working on integrating the “heart on a chip” with other muscle types including stem-cell derived myocytes. Our design efforts are greatly enhanced by our lab’s variety of tools ranging from an optical mapping system and fluorescent microscopes to access to microfab facilities and the muscular thin film technology.


The movie shows a 6 film “heart on a chip”, blue – flat film outline, red – projection tracking

Higher throughput muscle on a chip

Primary Investigator: Ashutosh Agarwal, Ph.D

We are engineering cardiac and vascular smooth muscle cells into spatially organized microtissues on laser cut sub millimeter sized elastomer thin films and hydrogel thin films to give rise to large scale arrays of ‘Muscular Thin Films’ (MTFs) on a chip. The laser cutting procedure is also being employed to batch produce multiple chips in a reproducible and potentially scalable manner. Finally, these chips are being integrated into microfluidic devices to permit high throughput multiplexed analyses. We envision this in vitro technology to serve as an effective pre-clinical screen and hence greatly shorten the timeline and reduce the costs associated with the development of medical therapeutics and products.

Cardiac valve on a chip

Primary Investigator: Kartik Balachandran, Ph.D

We are also interested in developing combinatory “organ on a chip” devices, and one of our research thrusts in this direction is the development of a valve on a chip. Our objective is to design a valve system with neural input that recapitulates the function of a valve in a scaled down on-chip device. This research thrust is motivated from recent secondary valvulotoxic effects of neurological drugs such as diet pills (Fenfluramine-Phentermine) and anti-depressants. We aim to use this device for high throughput testing of neurological and valve function in response to various pharmacological agents.
Grp_photo_Jan 2014_305W_230H

What's New

Welcome Dr. Cera and Dr. Lee! April 3rd, 2017

The DBG would like to extend a warm welcome to our new postdoctoral fellows, Luca Cera & Keel Yong Lee. Luca comes to us from Berlin, German, where he recently completed his Ph.D. in Chemistry under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Christoph A. Schalley. Keel Yong recently completed his Ph.D. in Prof. Kwanwoo Shin’s lab at Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea. We are looking forward to expanding on our past collaborations with him.

Congratulations to Karaghen Hudson, Leila Deravi & Nina Sinatra on the cover of Macromolecular Materials and Engineering! March 27th, 2017

Parker Lab Artist Karaghen Hudson’s illustration accompanying Leila Deravi & Nina Sinatra’s paper “Design and Fabrication of Fibrous Nanomaterials Using Pull Spinning” was chosen for the March 2017 cover of Macromolecular Materials and Engineering.



Pull spinning is a new nanofiber manufacturing technique that uses a high-speed rotating bristle to draw anisotropic nanofibers from a polymer solution. The versatile structure and composition of scaffolds formed using pull spinning enables a wide range of applications, including muscle tissue engineering and textile design.

Congratulations to George Touloumes! March 21st, 2017

Congratulations to Parker Lab PhD student George Touloumes who has been awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Congratulations to Ben Pope! March 21st, 2017

Congratulations to Parker Lab Postdoc Ben Pope who was recently awarded a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellowship sponsored by the Good Ventures Foundation.

Congratulations Grant Gonzalez and Michael Rosnach on the cover of Macromolecular Materials and Engineering! January 23rd, 2017

Parker Lab Artist Michael Rosnach’s illustration accompanying PhD Student Grant Gonzalez’s paper “Production of synthetic, para-aramid and biopolymer nanofibers by immersion rotary jet-spinning” was chosen for the January 2017 cover of Macromolecular Materials and Engineering.


mame201600365_Cover Art Submission


“Utilizing a precipitant vortex, a novel nanofiber platform produces Kevlar, nylon, DNA, and alginate nanofibers for high-performance composites and tissue engineering applications.”