Featured Labs for PhD Recruitment

Brown University's Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program has extensive participation from research groups across Brown and the surrounding hospitals. Each year, we feature a subset of these labs that have exciting, new research projects in need of talented doctoral students. We encourage interested applicants to browse this information along with the more complete list of faculty/labs to find the best fit(s).

Darling Lab

Research areas: Tissue Engineering/Regenerative Medicine, Mechanobiology, Stem Cells, Orthopaedics

The goal of the Darling Lab's research is to understand the relationship between the biological function of cells and tissues and their micro/nano-scale mechanical properties. Our primary focus is on mesenchymal stem cells and their use in musculoskeletal tissue regeneration. Current projects in the lab are investigating novel biomarkers that can be used to enrich for lineage-specific cell types. This includes single-cell mechanical properties, measured via atomic force microscopy, and live-cell gene expression, determined via molecular beacons. Anticipated projects exist within these areas of focus, as well as promising avenues that expand our knowledge into related fields through collaborations with partners at Brown University and the surrounding hospitals. More information on Dr. Eric Darling and the Darling Lab can be found on their respective websites. 

Fleming Lab

Research areas: ACL Injury, Osteoarthritis, Biotribology, Regenerative Medicine, Soft Tissue Biomechanics

Dr. Fleming's research focuses on the development of novel intervention strategies to prevent post-traumatic osteoarthritis following joint injury. The primary model for these studies is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, which is known to induce arthritis despite current treatments. Ongoing projects include the development of experimental models to investigate the progression of arthritis following ACL injury, the optimization of a novel tissue engineering method to stimulate ligament healing and minimize cartilage damage, the application of biotribologic principles to prevent cartilage damage, and the design of MR-based methods to non-invasively monitor the biomechanical properties of healing soft tissues (ligaments & cartilage). Anticipated projects exist within all of these areas, with a particular opportunity related to the soft tissue imaging work. More information on Dr. Braden Fleming and the Bioengineering Lab can be found on the respective websites. 

Morgan Lab

Research areas: 3D Tissue and Organ Engineering

The Morgan lab invented the 3D PetriDish®, now commercially available (www.microtissues.com)(Sigma-Aldrich) to grow cells in 3D using micro-molded agarose gels. Unlike other methods in tissue engineering that attach cells to a scaffold, cells are seeded into micro-molded nonadhesive agarose gels where they self-assemble 3D multi-cellular microtissues of varying sizes and shapes from simple spheroids to complex honeycomb structures in typically 24 hours. Like native tissue, cell density is high and when these microtissues are contacted, they will fuse into a larger tissue. With funds from the NSF, Morgan lab is building a new instrument that will pick, place and perfuse these living building blocks for the goal of 3D organ engineering. More information on Professor Morgan and his lab's work can be found on the website. 

Nurmikko Lab

Research areas: Neuroengineering, Neuroscience

The Nurmikko lab focuses on developing devices and methods for interfacing with the brain in the emerging discipline of neuroengineering. Along with collaborators in engineering, neuroscience, and neurology/neurosurgery, the Nurmikko lab seeks solutions for all areas of brain science. Some projects include
a) developing a fully implantable, wireless system for recording 100-channel broadband neural signals
b) making optogenetic devices for neural stimulation and developing methods for neural prostheses

More information on the Nurmikko Lab

Wong Laboratory

Research areas: Cancer Invasion, Drug Resistance, Biomaterials, Microfluidics

Tumors are complex and heterogeneous systems that often confound existing therapeutic treatments. In particular, different cell types within a tumor microenvironment may cooperate or compete to promote malignant behaviors. The Wong Lab will develop new technologies to understand how invasion and drug resistance are coordinated in cancer. From an engineering perspective, projects will explore how materials and mechanical aspects of the tumor microenvironment affect cancer cell proliferation, invasion and plasticity. From a biological perspective, projects will seek new insights into single cell heterogeneity and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Furthermore, these projects will have a significant translational component, enabling high-throughput screening of new therapeutic compounds in “organ on a chip” microphysiological platforms. More information on Prof. Ian Wong and the Wong Lab can be found on their respective websites.

Borton Lab

Research areas: Neuroengineering, Neuroscience, Motion Science

Our neuroengineering laboratory engages engineers, neuroscientists, mathematicians, and clinicians to create and apply state-of-the-art bi-directional neural interfaces, kinematic sensors, and biochemical sensors to study the healthy brain as it navigates natural environments aimed to both understand and alleviate neuromotor disease and insult. The lab is currently building a Brain-Spinal interface, connecting custom-developed wireless neural recording technologies with state-of-the-art spinal cord stimulation methods to reanimate the nervous system after disease or injury. We are designing new fully-implantable neural recording technologies to enable multiple area recording from the brain and closed-loop algorithms to detect and react to aberrant essential tremor. More information on Dr. David Borton and the Borton Lab can be found on their respective websites.

Shukla Lab for Designer Biomaterials

Research areas: Drug Delivery, Regenerative Medicine, Self-Assembly, Infection, Stem Cells

The Shukla Lab for Designer Biomaterials identifies and develops biomaterials solutions for critical unmet clinical needs in the areas of drug delivery and regenerative medicine. We apply concepts from polymer self-assembly, the study of molecular interactions, and cellular mechanobiology to create smart and informed biomaterials to address these biomedical challenges. Current projects in the lab include the development of multifunctional antimicrobial self-assembled drug delivery coatings and hydrogels and the design of degrading surfaces for controlling mammalian cell behavior. Potential research projects in these areas for incoming graduate students will include development of target-activated antifungal coatings for advanced military field dressings and bandages and development of advanced hydrogel wound dressings for burn infections.  See the Shukla Lab webpage for more information on our research and our researchers. 

Coulombe Lab 

Research areas: Cardiac Tissue Engineering/Regenerative Medicine, Mechanobiology, Biomaterials, Human Pluripotent Stem Cell Biology 

The human heart is one of the least regenerative organs in the body and its injury due to many different diseases motivates the research in the Coulombe Lab.  Using cardiomyocytes derived from human pluripotent stem cells, we aim to understand how to best regenerate contractile function of the whole heart by studying all levels of cardiac function from single cells to engineered tissues and implanted therapeutics. With an expertise in force generation and contractile biophysics, our group integrates scaffold design and drug delivery through biomaterial development. Current projects in the lab investigate cardiomyocyte maturation as single, patterned cells and in aligned engineered tissues; the effect of scaffold composition and mechanics on engineered tissue formation; vascularization of implanted tissues utilizing novel biomaterials with integrated growth factor release; and in vitro cardiotoxicity assay development. New projects are continuously evolving within the lab, spurred on by new discoveries and collaborations. Individuals interested in pursuing research with Dr. Coulombe should contact her directly.

Jonghwan LeeJonghwan Lee

Lee Lab 

Research areas: Neuroengineering, Biomedical Optics

The Lee Lab focuses on development of optical technologies for label-free, micrometer-resolution, three-dimensional imaging of tissue structures and dynamics, mainly in but not limited to the brain cortex, and dissemination of the technologies for translational research through wide collaboration. Research projects in the Lee Lab can be grouped into three categories: (1) Minimally-invasive, label-free, large-scale imaging of neural activity at single-cell and single-spike resolution simultaneously over freely-selectable thousands of neurons, eventually in the human brain cortex; (2) Optical coherence tomography technologies for tissue dynamics imaging; and (3) Applications for physiology and pathology research, including commercialization of the developed technologies.