Brendan Harley


Dr. Harley received a B.S. in Engineering Sciences from Harvard University (2000) and an Sc.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT (2006). After a post-doc in immunology at Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, Dr. Harley joined the faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008 where he is an assistant professor in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Dept. and a faculty member at the Institute for Genomic Biology. Dr. Harley is the co-founder of UK-based Orthomimetics, Ltd. (recently acquired by TiGenix, Ltd.), which currently has a biomaterial for arthroscopic osteochondral repair in Phase I clinical trials.

Dr. Harley and his research group have been developing biomaterial systems to explore the practical significance of how cell and matrix-based cues can be optimized to improve biomaterial bioactivity and the mechanistic details of how individual cells sense, integrate, and respond to multiple extrinsic cues. This work has recently focused on developing spatially-patterned microenvironments containing multiple classes of matrix, biomolecule, and cell-based cues to drive stem cell self renewal, differentiation, tissue biosynthesis, and to alter cancer malignancy. These macro- and micro-scale patterns allow us to spatially and temporally tune the matrix and cell microenvironment surrounding individual cells or cell populations, and then quantitatively analyze cell response to these materials at the signal transduction, gene expression, and functional levels. Currently we are developing graded biomaterial substrates for the regenerative repair of multi-tissue orthopedic insertions. We are also creating multi-gradient biomaterials to investigate fundamental questions regarding niche-mediated (matrix elasticity, ligand presentation, and paracrine-mediated signaling) regulation of hematopoietic stem cell behavior; these materials are also of significant value for probing the influence of the local tumor microenvironment on glioblastoma cell malignancy.


Biomaterials; tissue engineering; stem cells niches; multi-tissue structures (musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, bone marrow); tumor microenvironment

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