Vanderbilt biomedical engineering professor wins NSF early career award to support tissue engineering research

Vanderbilt University engineering professor Jonathan Brunger has won a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to understand how cells and biomaterials can work together to improve tissue regeneration. The prestigious five-year award honors early career faculty who have the potential to serve as role models in research and education and lead advances in their fields.

Jonathan Brunger

The grant for $579,000, administered by the NSF’s Division of Chemical, Bioengineering, Environmental and Transport Systems, will support his exploration of how cells and natural and synthetic biomaterials can respond to their environment to repair tissue. This could lead to strategies for engineering cells to express selected therapeutic response at effective doses for chronic inflammatory diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Brunger, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, builds circuits to control cell behavior and engineer their responses based on features in their environment. Brunger earlier won a $1.5 million NSF grant with two Vanderbilt colleagues to advance the science of organoids with cells that organize themselves and mimic development of human brain structures. His lab is also supported by NIH grants and foundation awards.

“Our work will interrogate how artificial cell signaling networks might allow designer interactions between engineered cells and their environments. Our findings will contribute to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine strategies to treat disorders ranging from those in the musculoskeletal to central nervous systems,” Brunger said.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314