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Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory
208 North Wright Street Urbana, Illinois 61801


Office hours 8:30a - 5:00p


Phone: 217-333-3097
Fax: 217-244-6375


Brendan A. Harley

Assistant Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
110 Roger Adams Laboratory, MC-MC 712
600 S. Mathews
Urbana, Illinois 61801
(217) 244-7112
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Research Statement:
The goal of our research program is to develop innovative biomaterial approaches to replicate the heterotypic cell and matrix microenvironments found in the tissues, organs, and stem cell niches of the body. They present unique, unaddressed challenges in tissue engineering, but also inspire innovative biomaterials science. We are particularly interested in strategies to render a biomaterial instructive – having the capacity to selectively influence cell bioactivity. Therefore, whereas many research efforts in the field of tissue engineering focus on optimizing monolithic biomaterials, we focus on developing biomaterials that utilize spatially and temporally defined patterns of structural, biochemical, and cellular microenvironments to drive cell fate. Our efforts are generating new insight regarding the design of spatially-graded biomaterials able to regionally control (stem) cell activity for a wide range of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications.Key focus areas include: (1) multi-scale scaffolds to drive orthopedic interface regeneration (osteotendinous insertion, maxillofacial polytrauma); (2) bone marrow mimics to investigate hematopoietic stem cell expansion and homing; (3) brain tumor biomaterial platform to dissect the mechanobiology of glioblastoma cell-matrix interactions and to screen pharmaceutical/immune-therapies; (4) approaches to control transient/permanent sequestration of endometrium-inspired biomolecules within a biomaterial to drive revascularization.While primarily experimental, our efforts are enriched by modeling approaches as well as inspiration derived from mechanically-efficient structures found in nature such as porcupine quills, plant stems, and interdigitated sutures to improve biomaterial design. Notably, the porous structure of biomaterials and many natural materials (wood, coral) gives rise to distinct mechanical and material properties such as exceptional mechanical efficiency. Therefore as part of our efforts, we use cellular solids and poroelastic modeling techniques to describe local properties within the biomaterials we create.
Research Interests:
Extracellular Matrix Analogs, Cell and Tissue Engineering
For more information:
Harley Group website
Follow me on Twitter @Prof_Harley

Honors, Recognition, and Outstanding Achievements:

  • NSF CAREER award 2013 - 2018
  • Presidentís Award, Research (Advocate of the Year); American Cancer Society of Illinois 2011
  • Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising, College of Engineering, University of Illinois 2011
  • University of Illinois, Teachers Ranked as Excellent 2009 - 2012
  • Kirschstein National Research Service Award T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH 2006-2008
  • Fellowship, MIT-Whitaker Health Science Fund 2003-2005
  • Fellowship, Dupont/MIT Alliance 2000-2001