University of Chicago Big Ideas Generator


Big Question: Cell-Based Active Matter from Controlled Spatio-Temporally Design and Interactions

University of Chicago Big Questions

Principal Investigator: Norbert Scherer, Chemistry; Louis Philipson, Endocrinology

Funding Type: Vision

Focus Area: Complexity

Big Idea: Can one rationally create tissue with specific functions or functional properties that differ from those found in nature? From a functional materials perspective, can one create active matter - tissue built from functionally and spatially patterned cells of different types - with new functions in space and time? The goal of this proposal is to design and fabricate cell-based active matter that is inspired by properties and materials in the physical world. The multicellular nature of the proposed materials makes them a tissue. The tissue will have a hierarchy of functional elements: single cells as the basic building blocks; collections of spatially adjacent cells, termed “meta-cells”, that will have tunable properties; longer scale interactions amongst meta-cells and programmable stimuli on various spatial and temporal scales. We will focus on creating a new function for known cell types - additivity of response vs. the bistable “all or nothing” response of interacting collections of insulin secreting beta cells - such that chemical signaling and chemical wave propagation can exhibit interference effects that are intrinsic in optics, the wave properties of light and water waves.

Check out other funded projects