In 2010, I spent time as a surgical intern at one of the world’s leading liver transplant centers. There, I met many patients with life-threatening illnesses who were unlikely to live long enough to receive lifesaving donor organs.
This experience motivated me to find alternative approaches to traditional transplantation. Specifically, I’m focused on developing an “in-a-dish” engineering strategy for directing complex hepatogenesis from human stem cells.
Living systems have an amazing power to develop. Our work aims to “nudge” nature's ability to grow into organs. My ultimate goal is to save children in need of a new liver through the development of organoids — stem-cell-derived miniature organs. Organoid technology allows for the study of drug development and transplant applications otherwise impossible.
My team and I have been successful in designing complex miniature organs in a dish from pluripotent stem cells, for example, by integration of vascular, mesenchymal and immune components into human liver organoids. Most notably, while studying early liver development, we engineered human stem cells into multi-organs composed of hepato-biliary-pancreatic tissue with interconnected structures.
For my work, I have been honored with the Japan Academy Medal and the Robertson Stem Cell Investigator Award from The New York Stem Cell Foundation.
At Cincinnati Children’s, I serve as director for commercial innovation within the Center for Stem Cell and Organoid Research and Medicine (CuSTOM). I am also on the faculty within the Institute of Research at Tokyo Medical and Dental University in Japan.
I serve on the board of directors for the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and the editorial boards for Stem Cell Reports, Hepatology and Cell Reports Medicine.
I greatly enjoy the work I do and invite anyone who’s interested to follow along virtually with our activities.