Jean Schwarzbauer


“Leveraging the extracellular matrix to enhance tissue regeneration”


Dr. Schwarzbauer is the Eugene Higgins Professor and Associate Chair of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and a member of the New Jersey Center for Biomaterials. Schwarzbauer trained at the University of Wisconsin and at MIT before joining the Princeton University faculty. Schwarzbauer studies mechanisms of ECM assembly and how the organization of the matrix regulates cell functions. Her contributions to matrix biology include discovering fibronectin alternative splicing, defining regulatory mechanisms of fibronectin matrix assembly, and developing novel ECM-based biomaterials, among others. She has a long record of service including President of ASMB, Secretary of ASCB, editor of major cell and matrix biology journals, and service on numerous advisory boards and grant review panels. She has organized many conferences including the biennial ASMB meeting and the Fibronectin & Integrins Gordon conference. At Princeton, she teaches cell biology and conducts NIH-funded research on the role of the ECM in fibrosis, skeletal development, metabolic diseases, and tissue repair and regeneration.


A major challenge in tissue regeneration is to direct the assembly of cells and their extracellular matrix (ECM) into arrangements that possess the unique physical and mechanical properties of the native tissue. Different types of cells co-exist within the three-dimensional (3D) tissue environment surrounded by their cell-assembled fibrillar ECM network with type I collagen and fibronectin as major components. We are designing tissue mimetics that incorporate native ECM composition, fiber architecture, and dimensionality with synthetic polymers to yield novel composite biomaterials. One approach uses patterned synthetic polymers to direct cells and their matrix into arrangements that resemble aligned tissue types such as neural, vascular, or musculoskeletal tissues. Another approach juxtaposes distinct scaffold architectures to support different cell types and their ECMs in a bilayer tissue construct. Through these approaches, we are developing combinatorial design principles to generate novel tissue mimetic platforms that can direct cell arrangements and behaviors to promote tissue-specific repair and regeneration.