Prof. Linda G. Griffith received a Bachelor's Degree from Georgia Tech and a PhD degree from the University of California at Berkeley, both in chemical engineering. Griffith’s is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Popular Science Brilliant 10 Award, NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, the MIT Class of 1960 Teaching Innovation Award, Radcliffe Fellow and several awards from professional societies.
The Griffith group’s research encompasses molecular-to-systems level analysis, design and synthesis of biomaterials, scaffolds, devices and micro-organs for a range of applications in regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, and in vitro drug development. A central theme is connecting the experimental systems to systems biology measurements. Most projects are highly interdisciplinary and translational, involving basic scientists, clinicians, and engineers, often with industry partners, to solve important problems in medicine and biology.
A foundational research focus in the lab is design and synthesis of biomaterials that control receptor-mediated processes in highly targeted and biophysically-appropriate ways, e.g. the demonstration that nanoscale clustering of adhesion ligands influences cellular phenotypes compared to random presentation and that bivalent growth factors bias signaling and cell phenotypes. One major application area is in regenerative connective tissue engineering, where we are working with clinicians to implement a “tethered EGF” strategy for improving survival and function of bone marrow stem cells harvested and transplanted intraoperatively.
In addition, there is tremendous interest in using in vitro models, especially tissue engineered models, for understanding human disease processes and for efficacy and safety of drugs to treat diseases. A crucial aspect of designing and interpreting experiments with in vitro models is defining which facets of the human in vivo state are most important to model. The lab is especially interested in inflammation – how to model inflammatory diseases, and how inflammation influences safety and efficacy of drugs? To that end, the group engages in clinical studies to understand how the complexity of inflammatory diseases in patients varies in different patient subpopulations. The group’s focus is on the cell-cell communication networks in inflammation, a compendium of computational and experimental approaches that often involve highly multiplexed measurements. The lab is applying these approaches to parse immune networks in infertility.
Furthermore, the lab is also greatly interested in creating complex tissue microstructures through use of functional biomaterials and projection microstereolithography. Most tissues and organs require blood flow both for distribution of nutrients and growth factors as well as mechanical stimulation and provision of trafficking of cells. The group has developed and commercialized a microscale perfusion reactor to support 3D liver culture, including support of delicate liver sinusoidal endothelial cells. The labs is applying the liver system to a variety of important physiology and drug development problems including liver inflammation and drug toxicity, and as a model of single cell cancer metastasis growth and response to chemotherapy.
The Griffith lab also leads a substantial program to build the “Human Physiome on a Chip”, funded by DARPA and NIH. In this program, ten microphysiological systems, including liver, gut, lung, and reproductive systems, are interconnected in a physiologically relevant manner. In this project, a major focus is on quantitative in vitro in vivo correlation of responses to drugs and therapeutics, hence, we host a substantial Translational Systems Pharmacology core as part of this project.