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.
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What's New

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.

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

mame201600365_Cover Art Submission

Congratulations to Ian Perkins & Alex Cho! January 5th, 2017

The DBG would like to congratulate Ian Perkins and Alex Cho who both graduated from Northeastern University in December. Ian received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Alex his B.S. in Biology. We would like to thank you both for your significant contributions to the DBG over the past several years, and we are grateful that you are both continuing with us in the lab this semester!

Congratulations Dr. Capulli! December 15th, 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Andrew Capulli who successfully defended his dissertation in December, and will continue in the DBG as a Postdoctoral Fellow.

Congratulations Dr. Nesmith! December 15th, 2016

Congratulations to Dr. Peyton Nesmith who successfully defended his dissertation last month.  We wish him the best of luck as he returns to the University of Alabama to complete his M.D.

Congratulations to Parker Lab Post-doc Johan Lind, Ph.D., on the publication of his Heart-on-a-Chip paper in Nature Materials on October 24! October 25th, 2016