Contributing Trainee(s) and corresponding trainee projects: Vera Koledova: “Generation and application of hiPSCs with genetically encoded voltage sensors and tissue specific markers for analysis of emergent behavior in cardiac organoid models.” and “Determining the impact of microvascular networks on cardiac muscle cell behavior.” Vera will also focus efforts on continuing our previous collaboration with the Kamm lab on this project over the next year.
The Boyer lab at MIT works on learning how cells translate signaling cues into specific cellular behaviors in the context of multi-cellular systems. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are a powerful model for understanding the molecular basis of cell fate determination. Current approaches have employed the differentiation of hiPSCs to specific cell types to study cell behavior; however, this single cell systems are limited in their ability to model the multi-cellularity of typical organ systems.
Moreover, the lack of quantitative tools has limited our ability to measure emergent behaviors in the context of cell-based systems. Using cardiac muscle cells as a model, we are developing innovative approaches for quantifying how cell-cell interactions and mechanical cues impact cell state in cell clusters that include cardiac muscle cells, microvascular networks, and ultimately neurons. Our exacting tools will allow us to measure the dynamics of cell behavior as they emerge in real time. We expect that these studies can be used to improve the ability to differentiate human iPSCs into mature multi-cellular heart tissue that will serve as a better model for pharmacology and regenerative therapy, and to discover fundamental principles that can be broadly applied to improve stem cell based regenerative therapies.