Deborah Leckband’s research group, The Biological Interfaces Group, uses surface modification, micro-patterning, and materials synthesis to precisely manipulate cell microenvironments. These powerful tools control concentration profiles of soluble factors and adhesive cues. Her team also tune mechanical properties of scaffolds to mimic in vivo tissue environments, and thereby precisely control cell stimuli in ways that are difficult to achieve in vivo. Through collaborations with biologists both at UIUC and other institutions, Leckband uses these platforms to understand and manipulate cell behavior. Current projects (i) identify design rules for controlling material properties in aqueous/biological environments, (ii) determine how engineered adhesive and soluble cues direct stem cell differentiation, (ii) identify how the interplay between different adhesion receptors controls cell adhesion and migration in cancer metastasis, wound healing, and embryonic development.
Leckband is a Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and the Reid T. Milner Professor in the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Illinois. She has affiliate professor appointments in the Beckman Institute, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab, and the Bioengineering department.