Aleksander Skardal, PhD
Aleksander Skardal, PhD, Assistant Professor
Dr. Skardal received his B.Sc. degree in
Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 2005. Following that,
he received his Ph.D in Bioengineering from the University of Utah in 2010. Dr.
Skardal joined the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in 2010 as a
postdoctoral research fellow and is now an Assistant Professor.
SYNOPSIS OF AREA OF INTEREST:
- Development and
implementation of customized hydrogel biomaterials for regenerative
medicine and tissue engineering applications.
- Tissue engineered
micro-tissue organoid platforms and fluidic devices for in vitro toxicology and drug
- In vitro cancer models for pathway exploration, drug
screening, and personalized medicine.
- The role of tissue mechanical
properties on normal tissue and tumor cell phenotype.
DETAILED AREA OF INTEREST: Currently there is a major gap in methods to study complex
biological mechanisms in controlled environments that can be extensively
manipulated. Animal models are not necessarily predictive of results in humans
and are expensive, and many traditional in
vitro cell culture models are too primitive and differ significantly from in vivo conditions. More accurate 3-D in vitro models that mimic in vivo human tissues, are powerful
tools that can be employed in many arenas, including cancer biology, drug
development, and pathogen modeling, and can decrease dependency on animal
experimentation, reduce R&D time and costs, benefiting researchers and
patients alike. To create such in vitro
models we are combining technologies, including highly customizable hydrogel
biomaterials, biofabrication techniques, and microfluidic devices to create
environments that can better mimic the conditions in the body. These platforms
are being implemented to create several types of systems. We are exploring
tumor biology and metastasis in systems that allow manipulations of the
physical environment, screening of drugs and drug candidates, and implementation
of various cell populations. Using
microfluidic devices paired with tissue engineered organoids, we can mimic
biology of multiple tissue types in the lab, and explore how they interact
under the influence of drugs and toxins. In the realm of cancer, we can employ
these devices under circulation to recapitulate phenomena that occur during
metastasis of tumor cells migrating through the blood stream to target