The Eyckmans lab aims to understand and harness the regenerative processes of musculoskeletal tissues and skin. We employ a reverse engineering strategy in which we learn from regeneration in animal models to develop 3D biomimetic models of tissue repair and regeneration. Our current research interests are:

1. Mechanisms of bone formation in engineered constructs: Using animal models and “omics” technologies, we investigate how calcium phosphate ceramics induce bone formation in human stem cells.

Investigating bone formation in implanted materials (left) by mapping the gene regulatory networks that drive osteogenesis (right).

2. Biomimetic in vitro models of wound healing and tissue repair: After injury, tissues repair either through scarring, or regenerate and restore the original tissue architecture and function. To study the decision making process between scarring and regeneration more closely, we develop 3D tissue wound healing models and investigate how mechanical forces, extracellular matrix and different cell types control tissue closure and ensuing remodeling of the wound environment.

Fibroblasts repairing a hole in an engineered microtissue.

3. Biomimetic models for skeletal tissue morphogenesis: By combining our strengths in vascular and bone tissue engineering, mechanobiology and stem cell differentiation and organ-on-chip technologies, we aim to engineer culture systems that recapitulate the process of bone tissue formation and remodeling in vitro. Using these in vitro systems we investigate mechanisms of bone remodeling by human cells in homeostasis, after injury or during disease. Ultimately, these systems will be used as a testbed for screening and testing drugs to treat skeletal diseases such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

A biomimetic in vitro system to study bone mineralization (green) by human cells ensconced in a collagenous microtissue (blue/red).