The Kaplan Lab focuses on biopolymer engineering to
understand structure-function relationships, with emphasis
on studies related to self-assembly, biomaterials
engineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.
The studies include a variety of structural proteins,
including collagens, elastins, resilins and silks.
The lab has pioneered the study of silk-based biomaterials
in regenerative medicine, starting from fundamental studies
of the biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysical
features to the impact on stem cell functions and complex
tissue formation. The result has been the emergence of silk
as a new option in the degradable polymer field with
excellent biocompatibility, new fundamental understanding of
control of water to regulate structure and properties, and
new tissue-specific outcomes with silk as scaffolding in
gel, fiber, film or sponge formats. Studies are also focused
on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine with the use
of complex 3D tissue co-culture systems to establish and
study human tissues in the laboratory and in animal systems.
These systems are also used to study diseases associated
with brain, intestine, kidney, obesity, diabetes and
cancers, including for therapeutic screening. Interfaces
with optical imaging tools are also exploited.