As a Bio-ir (AgroBio-Tech, chemistry & biotech), a master in Physics and being just graduated with a third master in Biostatistics and
Bioinformatics following a two years full time program at UHasselt, I have joined the Tissue Engineering research team of Professor Liesbet Geris
at the Biomechanics Research Unit of University of Liege (www.biomech.ulg.ac.be) and the GIGA-R in silico medicine group
(www.giga.uliege.be) since April 1st, 2018 and am enrolled in a PhD.
Tissue Engineering is an interdisciplinary field combining biomedical and engineering sciences in the search for replacements of
non-functional tissues or organs by manufacturing living implants that support tissue regeneration. Besides direct clinical applications,
in a near future, more and more biomedical trials will use engineered in vitro human tissue cultures to assess
different drugs or just as experimental settings to conduct fundamental research on the way biology works.
The research approaches combine multi-scale physics, biomechanics, molecular biology, biochemistry, biological chemistry, bioenergetics, non-equilibrium thermodynamics,
system biology, graph theory and networks for modeling complex signal pathways between cell lines in space but also in time.
Supporting scaffolds for the cell cultures are being investigated. Bioreactors are developped with new direct or indirect sensors. Optical tweezers are used allowing manipulation
of small beads in vitro and assaying force-displacement on single molecules, at pico Newtons and nanometric scales. Advanced imaging methods are used going beyond the state of the art MRI, X-ray computed tomography,
fluorescence, immuno-cyto-histo-chemistry methods to better visualize, in 3 dimensions, the objects under investigation.
Biology is a universe of heterogeneity, of concentration gradients,
of driving forces in open systems that are permanently under physico-chemical pertubations.
Modeling techniques are developped to mimick as faithfully as possible
the living processes being investigated. All the tools of omics technologies are used in the experimental settings.
Existing or newly developed biostatistical and bioinformatical methods are of major concerns in each steps of the research process.
At the GIGA (Interdisciplinary Cluster for Applied Genomic), the in-silico biomedicine unit is key to build up the bio-based knowledge
in a structured way in computer models to improve knoweldge integration, validation and to challenge the reliability of the models
to gain further confidence and reproducibility of bioprocesses.
We are currently working on an EOS (FNRS-FWO) funded research project on osteoartritis with partners from KUL Leuven, UGhent and ULiege.
What is cartilage ? How is it made of ? How do osteoblasts, osteoclasts, osteocytes, chondrocytes cross talk and differentially
express their genes conditioning on mechanical stresses (or lack of), aging, sex, chemical environment in the extra cellular matrix
such as osmotic pressure, hypoxia or oxydative stress ?
To what extent does the cartilige repair ? Can it be tissue engineered from human induced pluripotent stem cells ?
How do we study the mechanisms leading to osteoarthritis (OA) ? How does inflammation interfere with osteoarthritis ?
Those questions set the framework of our research. We contribute with the bioinformatics and statistical analysis of RNAseq
data gathered from human in vitro tissue cultures in different experimental settings and aim at funneling the bio-knowledge
into mechanistic models for OA, integrating the most relevant signalling pathways.