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Research Areas

Craniofacial Development and Biology

Much of our current understanding of craniofacial development is from animal studies and have yet to be demonstrated in human studies. Using human embryonic stem cells as the in vitro human system,  we are interested to study human craniofacial  development through deciphering the underlying transcriptional network and signalling pathways that control the cranial neural crest specification and differentiation. We utilize  flow cytometry, microarray, and transplant assays to characterize the cells in our studies.   

Craniofacial Tissue Engineering

Through our knowledge of embryonic development, we are interested in the derivation and characterization of clinically applicable cell types from human embryonic stem cells including cranial neural crest cells, mesenchymal, endothelial and neural progenitors, and developing their use for cell-based therapies, and in tissue engineering through studies of lineage analysis, self-assembled tissue formation, and cell-materials interactions. Towards this end, we are developing injectable hydrogels and delivery systems to influence stem cell fate and morphogenesis, with the aim of developing injectable therapeutics for wide applications in treatment of craniofacial defects and abnormalities involving cartilage, bone, subcutaneous fat and soft tissues. We work with animal models through xenotransplantation to establish the stem cell potency and derived tissue functionality, and utilize immunohistochemistry, histopathological analysis and functional testing in our studies.

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