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Researcher | Research Overview

Over the past four decades, significant progress has been made in the field of Tissue Engineering; however, the field still lacks physiologically relevant and functionally engineered constructs and models of living tissues and organs. These human-relevant engineered tissues are crucial for modeling and understanding the complex pathophysiology of diseases to develop more effective therapeutics, as well as restoring the functionality of damaged or lost tissues. Dr. Izadifar's laboratory employs a multidisciplinary approach based on advanced engineering, cell biology, biofabrication, biomaterials, and life science technologies to reconstitute the structural, physiological, and functional aspects of human urogenital and reproductive tissues and organs in vitro.
Urogenital and reproductive conditions, such as chronic infections (i.e., UTI, BV, STDs), and metabolic and phenotypic abnormalities of the tissues of urinary and reproductive tracts, are common and clinically challenging conditions. They are difficult to treat and disproportionately affect vulnerable populations such as children, women, and the elderly. The lack of understanding of the complex physiology and pathophysiology of the urogenital and reproductive tissue microenvironment has hindered the development of effective treatments, diagnostics, and preventive strategies. Consequently, this has resulted in a significant economic burden on the healthcare system and poor life quality for patients.

Dr. Izadifar's lab utilizes advanced in vitro culture systems, such as Organ-on-Chip, to create microphysiological models of human urinary and reproductive tract mucosa. These models enable studying the complex interactions of host, microbiome, pathogens, and risk factors in human urogenital health and diseases that have significant clinical relevance for improving the current knowledge gap in the field as well as development and pre-clinical screening of novel and more effective therapeutics. The lab also employs advanced biofabrication techniques, such as 3D bioprinting, as well as stem cells and tissue engineering methods to engineer physiologically and structurally functional tissues of the urinary and reproductive tracts. The goal is to restore the functionality of damaged hollow organs in patients suffering from traumatic, congenital, or chronic disease organ defects.

Researcher | Research Background

Dr. Izadifar has over 10 years of multidisciplinary research experience and expertise in the fields of Tissue Engineering, Regenerative Medicine, in vitro tissue models, and non-invasive monitoring techniques. Throughout her PhD, she pioneered a novel 3D-bioprinting method enabling the fabrication of biomimetically-designed, cell-embedded cartilage, and osteochondral tissue constructs. These constructs mimic the native articular cartilage biology, structure, and mechanical functionality, aiming to repair tissues and translate applications to clinical therapies. Her work also advanced the field by introducing synchrotron X-ray imaging-based assessment methods that enable non-invasive visualization and longitudinal monitoring of engineered soft (cartilage) and hard (bone) tissues in situ after transplantation and throughout the engraftment and repair process to evaluate the success of the engineered constructs.

During her postdoctoral training at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University, Dr. Izadifar led the development and application of Organ-on-a-Chip in vitro models of human cervical mucosa (Cervix Chip) to study host-microbiome interactions in symbiotic and dysbiotic states. The Cervix Chip offers an unprecedented recapitulation of in vivo cervical tissue, considering structural, biochemical, functional, and physiological aspects in response to environmental, hormonal, and bacterial stimuli. Dr. Izadifar also led development of Organ Chips integrating multiple analytical sensors that enables non-invasive and continuous monitoring of different metabolic functions on-chip, significantly improving the efficacy and reliability of Organ Chip models for more accurate pre-clinical drug screening.

Dr. Izadifar is also affiliated with Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University


Researcher | Publications