The major intellectual theme of EBICS is the integration of concepts from the applied fields of tissue engineering, systems biology, and synthetic biology to: a) yield new analytical insights into emergent behaviors of integrated cellular systems and b) use this analytical framework as the basis to design and build new kinds of biological machines. Each of the applied fields of EBICS research integrates approaches from several established engineering and science disciplines and as a result EBICS research is highly interdisciplinary in nature. Therefore to bridge disciplinary gaps experienced by students from disparate engineering and science backgrounds we have created a spectrum of activities geared to provide continuing education for EBICS undergraduates, graduate students and postdocs.

To address potential gaps in technical knowledge across disparate fields, the EBICS Education team posts lectures from EBICS faculty below. We will continue to update the series of lectures going forward.

Dr. Roger Kamm – “A Brief Introduction to EBICS (Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems)”

This lecture introduces Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems (EBICS), a new field that draws upon different fields both from biology (e.g. synthetic biology, systems biology, developmental biology, stem cell biology) and from engineering (e.g. microfluidics, nanotechnology, tissue engineering). In the next decade we will have the capability to create complex living machines but before we get to that point we need to address a number of critical questions.

Dr. Stanislav Shvartsman – “Emergent Behavior in Cellular Systems: Models of Embryonic Cell Cycle”

Developmental biology is central to much of what EBICS does. It is crucial to the emergence of form and the emergence of function. In both these areas we seek to learn from nature, and as we learn more about these processes we will increasingly draw upon them to make our machines, such as the pump bot, walk bot, and swim bots.

Dr. Michael Levin – “Bioelectric Control of Cell Behavior and Pattern Formation”

This lecture covers the role of transmembrane voltage potential gradients in regulating the behavior of cells and pattern formation during regeneration, embryogenesis, and cancer. Several examples are shown in which bioelectric gradients serve as a functional, instructive influence that can be exploited for activation of organ-level programming in synthetic bioengineering. A few basic concepts of developmental bioelectricity are discussed, and state-of-the-art tools for investigating the molecular mechanisms of voltage regulation are illustrated.

Dr. H. Harry Asada – “Computational Modeling of Integrated Cell Migration and Structure Formation”

This educational module provides students and researchers with focused basic knowledge on integrated cell migration. Cell migration is important to many fields of biology and medicine, including animal development, cancer metastasis, the immune system, and wound healing. An essential feature of animal development is the migration of specific cells to form a pattern and functional structure. Emergent behaviors are heavily involved in coordinated migration of multiple cellular systems interacting with other cells and the microenvironment. 

Dr. Melissa Kemp – “Systems Biology and Multiscale Modeling”

This module provides an overview of the computational strategies that are used to investigate multiscale behavior within EBICS. After a historical introduction to systems biology, the concept of modularity within biological systems is discussed as a feature for exploiting in computational model development. Specific examples of modeling that facilitate design of biological circuits and analysis of emergence are covered.

Dr. Steven Stice – “Sourcing Stem Cells for Engineering”

This module introduces the principles of stem cells and the differentiation of stem cells into cells of interest for EBICS. The focus area for differentiation is neural development.  One of the most highly studied in vivo neural differentiation pathway is the neural tube and specifically motor neurons. Dr. Steven Stice, Director of the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center, will discuss the limitations of in vivo studies and how stem cell aggregates and organoids can be used to further the advancement of basic mechanisms and provide key components for biobots. Lastly, there will be an example of how motor neuron differentiation can be stochastically modeled and provide new insights into the process. 

Dr. Paula Hammond – “Engineering Gels and Thin Films for Regenerative Cellular Environments”

Biomaterials play a critical role in the development of engineering living systems as well as where cells live, which is always in some matrix that supports those cells and maintains their functionality and viability. Biomaterials provide the scaffold and the body of any machine and studying the design, remodeling, degradation and many other phenomenon within biomaterials and how cells interact with biomaterials is very important to the endeavor of engineering living systems. This module discusses intelligent design of biomaterials as they can support long-term cellular growth, viability, and functionality.

Dr. Hyunjoon Kong – “Biomaterials for 3D Cell and Tissue Engineering”

This talk was designed to review diverse strategies to assemble and characterize biomaterial systems used for 2D and 3D cell and tissue culture. In the end, the materials reviewed here would greatly serve to advance controllability of structure and function of biomaterial systems and finally modulate cellular gene expression and phenotypic activities in an elaborate manner.

Dr. Rashid Bashir – “3-D Fabrication of Biological Systems for Biological Soft Robotics and Tissue Engineering”

This lecture covers an overview of 3-D biofabrication with a specific focus on 3-D printing with Stereolithography. This technique can be used for applications in tissue engineering and fabrication of biological machines. Several examples of biological machines constructed with hydrogel scaffolds and cardiac cells or skeletal muscle cells are provided.

Dr. Hang Lu – “Automation and Microfluidic Tools for Quantitative Studies of Complex Systems”

This module discusses a microfluidic parallel cell-trapping, imaging, and processing device, an embryo trapping and imaging device, an automated microfluidic platform for imaging, screening and sorting C. elegans, and applications in neuroscience and developmental biology.

Dr. Roger Kamm – “Microfluidics for Developing Vascular and Neuromuscular Units”

This module addresses some of the technologies needed to build biological machines and optimize their behaviors. Cells can sometimes progress to the point of functionality without the need for non-biological scaffolds or structures, but we often can use these to microfabricate scaffolds to guide cells into a pattern where their natural tendences and capabilities take over to produce the desired functionalities. This is especially key to the growth of biobots and the design and fabrication of platforms that contain any of our living systems.

Dr. Gabriel Popescu – “Label-free Imaging of Cellular Systems”

Quantitative phase imaging (QPI) is an emerging field that allows label-free imaging of live cells with nanoscale sensitivity. QPI is a powerful technique for studying emergent behavior in cellular systems particularly because the technique is noninvasive and provides quantitative. Through a fruitful EBICS collaboration, which includes Steve Stice and Martha Gillette, we were able to measure the transition from a random to a deterministic transport during neuron network formation.

Dr. Taher Saif – “Biomechanics and Microenvironment”

This lecture covers the role of mechanical micro environment on the emergent behavior of cells and cell clusters. Several examples are discussed where mechanical micro environment is tuned to achieve desired cell functions. A few basic concepts and methods of mechanics are covered. An example of a biological machine is presented.