Program in Cell and Tissue Engineering


The program seeks to develop engineering technologies using biomaterials, nanotechnology, microfabrication, and biophysical methods to study stem cells and how they form tissues and organs.  Because the formation of functional tissues is relevant in a number of clinical regenerative medicine settings, this program interacts with many of the other programs within the IRM to provide enabling technologies.


  • Researchers at Penn pioneered studies that discovered that physical forces can guide stem cell fates.
  • Researchers are investigating how biomaterial properties can be used to enhance stem cell function.
  • Scientists are developing engineered heart microtissue as a platform for screening drugs for cardiac safety.


  • Investigators are developing novel biomaterials to enhance stem cell expansion, differentiation, and delivery for therapeutic applications.
  • Scientists are developing bioreactors to guide stem cells to form functional tissues including heart, cartilage, bone, and liver.
  • Nanotechnologies are being developed that can guide stem cell behaviors. 

“Bioengineering is the application of engineering methodology to cells, tissues and molecules. My engineering background allows me to bring a different skill set and integrate bioengineering within different research areas such as those in cardiac, lung, epithelial and digestive regeneration and stem cell research.”
Christopher S. Chen, M.D., Ph.D., is Director IRM Program in Cell and Tissue Engineering, and Skirkanich Professor of Innovation in Bioengineering.  Dr. Chen developed micro- and nanofabrication tools for applications in cell and tissue engineering, and used these to discover that mechanical forces are important for stem cell and blood vessel cell development.