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Jonathan Brunger

Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Biomedical Engineering

Intellectual Neighborhoods

Research Focus

Our work combines principles from synthetic biology, gene editing and regenerative engineering to design cells as reliable therapeutic agents, automate organoid production, and improve lab-based models of disease. Our aims are to systematically perturb and synthetically reconstitute cellular signaling pathways to understand diseases and develop living therapies to overcome tissue deterioration.

Selected publications:

1.       Kim, H. et al. Reactive astrocytes transduce inflammation in a blood-brain barrier model through a TNF-STAT3 signaling axis and secretion of alpha 1-antichymotrypsin. Nat. Commun. 13, 6581 (2022).

2.       Shi, Y., Kim, H., Hamann, C. A., Rhea, E. M., Brunger, J. M. & Lippmann, E. S. Nuclear receptor ligand screening in an iPSC-derived in vitro blood-brain barrier model identifies new contributors to leptin transport. Fluids Barriers CNS 19, 77 (2022).

3.       Huynh, N. P., Gloss, C. C., Lorentz, J., Tang, R., Brunger, J. M., McAlinden, A., Zhang, B. & Guilak, F. Long non-coding RNA GRASLND enhances chondrogenesis via suppression of interferon type II signaling pathway. Elife 9, (2020).

4.       Lee, J. C., Walton, B. L., Hamann, C. A. & Brunger, J. M. Synthetic regulation of multicellular systems for regenerative engineering. Curr. Opin. Biomed. Eng. 100252 (2020) doi:

5.       Toda, S., Brunger, J. M. & Lim, W. A. Synthetic development: learning to program multicellular self-organization. Curr. Opin. Syst. Biol. 14, 41–49 (2019).

6.       Pferdehirt, L., Ross, A. K., Brunger, J. M. & Guilak, F. A Synthetic Gene Circuit for Self-Regulating Delivery of Biologic Drugs in Engineered Tissues. Tissue Eng. Part A 25, 809–820 (2019).

7.       Huynh, N. P. T., Brunger, J. M., Gloss, C. C., Moutos, F. T., Gersbach, C. A. & Guilak, F. Genetic Engineering of Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Differential Matrix Deposition on 3D Woven Scaffolds. Tissue Eng. Part A 24, 1531–1544 (2018).

8.       Brunger, J. M., Zutshi, A., Willard, V. P., Gersbach, C. A. & Guilak, F. Genome Engineering of Stem Cells for Autonomously Regulated, Closed-Loop Delivery of Biologic Drugs. Stem Cell Reports 333, 1307–1311 (2017).

9.       Brunger, J. M., Zutshi, A., Willard, V. P., Gersbach, C. A. & Guilak, F. CRISPR/Cas9 Editing of Murine Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells for Engineering Inflammation-Resistant Tissues. Arthritis Rheumatol. 69, 1111–1121 (2017).

10.     Adkar, S. S., Brunger, J. M., Willard, V. P., Wu, C.-L., Gersbach, C. A. & Guilak, F. Genome Engineering for Personalized Arthritis Therapeutics. Trends Mol. Med. 23, 917–931 (2017).

11.     Diekman, B. O., Thakore, P. I., O’Connor, S. K., Willard, V. P., Brunger, J. M., Christoforou, N., Leong, K. W., Gersbach, C. A. & Guilak, F. Knockdown of the cell cycle inhibitor p21 enhances cartilage formation by induced pluripotent stem cells. Tissue Eng. Part A 21, 1261–74 (2015).

12.     Glass, K. A., Link, J. M., Brunger, J. M., Moutos, F. T., Gersbach, C. A. & Guilak, F. Tissue-engineered cartilage with inducible and tunable immunomodulatory properties. Biomaterials 35, 5921–5931 (2014).

13.     Brunger, J. M., Huynh, N. P. T., Guenther, C. M., Perez-Pinera, P., Moutos, F. T., Sanchez-Adams, J., Gersbach, C. A. & Guilak, F. Scaffold-mediated lentiviral transduction for functional tissue engineering of cartilage. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 111, E798–E806 (2014).

14.     Perez-Pinera, P., Ousterout, D. G., Brunger, J. M., Farin, A. M., Glass, K. A., Guilak, F., Crawford, G. E., Hartemink, A. J. & Gersbach, C. A. Synergistic and tunable human gene activation by combinations of synthetic transcription factors. Nat. Methods 10, 239–242 (2013).

15.     Francisco, A. T., Mancino, R. J., Bowles, R. D., Brunger, J. M., Tainter, D. M., Chen, Y.-T., Richardson, W. J., Guilak, F. & Setton, L. A. Injectable laminin-functionalized hydrogel for nucleus pulposus regeneration. Biomaterials 34, 7381–7388 (2013).

16.     Abrahamsson, C. K., Yang, F., Park, H., Brunger, J. M., Valonen, P. K., Langer, R., Welter, J. F., Caplan, A. I., Guilak, F. & Freed, L. E. Chondrogenesis and mineralization during in vitro culture of human mesenchymal stem cells on three-dimensional woven scaffolds. Tissue Eng. Part A 16, 3709–18 (2010).