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Dr. Xi (Charlie) Ren, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at the College of Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, delivers a detailed overview of his lab’s mission to provide regenerative therapeutic solutions to repair or replace damaged tissues and organs.

Xi Ren focused on developmental biology during his graduate study, specifically, vascular and hematopoietic systems. He later joined the Laboratory for Organ Engineering and Regeneration at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow. Xi Ren was named Instructor in Surgery at Harvard Medical School in 2016. During his tenure, he developed systematic strategies for engineering functional vasculature based on decellularized organ scaffolds. Xi Ren became a member of the faculty at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2017. Xi Ren earned a BS in biological science, as well as a Ph.D. in cell biology from the prestigious and highly ranked, Peking University in China.

Xi Ren discusses his work at the Ren Lab, specifically the interface of biomaterial and stem cell engineering with a primary objective to successfully provide regenerative therapeutic solutions to repair or replace damaged tissues and organs. The Ren Lab’s other prime areas of interest in exploration and research are vascular engineering, extracellular matrix engineering, cardiopulmonary engineering, and whole organ decellularization and regeneration. The Ren Lab is working to develop biologically selective and chemoselective approaches enabling extracellular matrix modulation and functionalization to stimulate injury repair in vivo and whole-organ bioengineering in vitro. Xi Ren talks about the shortage of lungs and livers and how his lab is working on ways to bioengineer lungs and livers with very similar structure and composition to their native counterparts, for transplantation. He discusses the details of organ structure and the difficulty of developing biomedically-engineered models of native organs.

The biomedical engineering expert talks about the limitations in his area of research and the importance of gathering excellent cells for lung reconstruction. And while stem cell biology is progressing, limitations still exist. He details the ways cells are used in regard to regeneration, discussing scaffolding, functionality, phenotypes, etc., and other issues. Xi Ren discusses bringing different cell types together to do a single job, to make a good functional organ, and the importance of organization in the process of organ regeneration. He details the methods utilized to work with purified cells and maintain them, and how it is possible to work with multiple cells within a specific organ.

Xi Ren talks about vasculature regarding transplantations, and how many organs’ key function is in their interaction with blood. He discusses the various vasculatures of multiple organs and their distinct characteristics that play a role in functioning. Further, Xi Ren expounds upon some areas of research he expects to see expand in the future.

The vascular network permeates literally every tissue and organ and displays unique structures and properties to meet organ-specific functions as well as physiology. The Ren Lab’s research seeks to understand the molecule profiles behind organ-specific vascular phenotypes with the ultimate goal of engineering organ-specific vasculature.

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