The blood-brain barrier (BBB)
The blood-brain barrier is a dynamic interface that separates the brain from the circulatory system and protects the central nervous system from potentially harmful chemicals while regulating transport of essential nutrients. We are using tissue engineering, stem cell technology, and microfabrication to reverse engineer the blood-brain barrier. Reverse engineering is the process of understanding the function of individual components in anything man-made (usually through disassembly), to enable reproduction. This reductive approach to understanding the role of individual components is particularly well suited for the BBB, which is inherently complex and involves multiple cell types. Specifically, it allows us to elucidate the underlying physical and biochemical processes that regulate the phenotype of brain capillaries and microvessels, while simultaneously allowing us to systematically increase the complexity of the model.