Biologically-inspired materials can be engineered with dynamic, information-rich functionality to mimic biological behaviors and elucidate cancer biology. In this seminar, I will present recent results from my group to pattern and print soft materials, as well as to understand the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cancer. First, we utilize mechanical deformations to wrinkle and crumple graphene oxide membranes into hierarchical architectures. We find that sequences of mechanical deformations generate unique structural features, suggestive of a mechanically encoded memory. These ultrastretchable coatings exhibit outstanding chemical resistance and may be utilized for smart fabrics and soft devices. Second, we utilize light-directed 3D printing to ionically crosslink alginate and other polyelectrolytes into hydrogels. We show that the mechanical stiffness and degradation kinetics can be dynamically encoded by ion concentration and is augmented by 2D nanomaterials. Finally, we engineer silk-collagen hydrogels to elucidate the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is implicated in malignant invasion and drug resistance. We demonstrate that cancer cells exhibit a range of phenotypic plasticity between collective and individual migration, with unexpected physical analogies to material solidification. Overall, we envision that large area patterning and printing of soft materials can be used for curved and stretchable multifunctional devices beyond wafer scale. Moreover, our biological research beyond 2D monolayer culture may enable fundamental insights into the tumor microenvironment, as well as physiologically relevant invasion assays for precision medicine.
Ian Wong engineers new miniaturized technologies based on BioMEMS and microfluidics to investigate cancer cell invasion, drug resistance, and heterogeneity. He is also interested in the unconventional fabrication of bio and nano materials using self-assembly and 3D printing. He received his A.B. magna cum laude in Applied Mathematics from Harvard University in 2003. He did his graduate work on the directed self-assembly of biomolecular materials with Nick Melosh, receiving a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University in 2010. His postdoctoral training was with Mehmet Toner and Daniel Irimia at the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital from 2010-2013. He joined Brown University as assistant professor of engineering in July 2013. He has been recognized with an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, a Damon Runyon Cancer Research Fellowship, the Brown University Pierrepont Award for Outstanding Advising, as a 2017 Biomaterials Science Emerging Investigator, and a 2017 Lab on a Chip Emerging Investigator.