Bio

Academic Appointments


Honors & Awards


  • Career Development Award (K grant), NIH (NCI) (2017-2021)
  • Mogam Scientific Scholarship, Mogam Scientific Foundation (2006)

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Editorial Board, AIM Bioengineering (2013 - Present)

Professional Education


  • Ph.D., Stanford University (2010)
  • B.S., POSTECH (2001)

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


One of the key characteristics of life is the dynamic cross-scale interactions across different levels of biological organization, such as molecules, genes, cells, tissues, organs and an organism, in their own multi-scaled environmental contexts. The dynamic property of these interactions results in variation in physiological traits across individuals, shaping individuality of an organism. The overall research direction of my laboratory is to establish in vitro experimental platforms in which we can investigate this cross-scale interaction efficiently to develop personalized therapeutic strategies. Because many aspects of cross-scale interactions are mediated by blood circulation and crosstalk between the vasculature and perivascular tissues, our current efforts are focused on engineering the functional vasculatures in pathophysiological conditions of various human tissues. We have successfully developed in vitro experimental models equipped with the capacity of real-time monitoring of individual cell behaviors, which enables effective identification of the vascular routes that induce desirable behaviors of endogenous or exogenously grafted cells. Our in vitro model allows precise and independent control of the experimental parameters in highly time- and cost- efficient ways and facilitates the development of therapeutic and preventive treatment strategies in consideration of the phenotype variations across the patient population.

Teaching

Graduate and Fellowship Programs


Publications

All Publications


  • 3D patterned stem cell differentiation using thermo-responsive methylcellulose hydrogel molds Scientific Reports Lee, W., Park, J. 2016; 6: 29408

    View details for DOI 10.1038/srep29408

  • Directed axonal outgrowth using a propagating gradient of IGF-1 ADVANCED MATERIALS Lee, W., Frank, C. W., Park, J. 2014; 26: 4936–4940

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.201305995

  • The Design of a Heterocellular 3D Architecture and its Application to Monitoring the Behavior of Cancer Cells in Response to the Spatial Distribution of Endothelial Cells ADVANCED MATERIALS Lee, W., Park, J. 2012; 24 (39): 5339-5344

    Abstract

    The spatial cell distribution is one of the critical features for governing cellular interactions and their consequent behaviors. Here we suggest a novel method of building a hierarchical cellular structure by stacking cell-attached microplate structures with specific configurations within hydrogel layers. This method is applied to the reconstruction of the 3D architecture of a liver lobule and the development of an experimental model of the various phases of cancer angiogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.201200687

    View details for Web of Science ID 000309405200006

    View details for PubMedID 22927197

  • Hydrophobic nanoparticles improve permeability of cell-encapsulating poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels while maintaining patternability PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Lee, W., Cho, N., Xiong, A., Glenn, J. S., Frank, C. W. 2010; 107 (48): 20709-20714

    Abstract

    Cell encapsulating poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels represent a promising approach for constructing 3D cultures designed to more closely approximate in vivo tissue environment. Improved strategies are needed, however, to optimally balance hydrogel permeability to support metabolic activities of encapsulated cells, while maintaining patternability to restore key aspects of tissue architecture. Herein, we have developed one such strategy incorporating hydrophobic nanoparticles to partially induce looser cross-linking density at the particle-hydrogel interface. Strikingly, our network design significantly increased hydrogel permeability, while only minimally affecting the matrix mechanical strength or prepolymer viscosity. This structural advantage improved viability and functions of encapsulated cells and permitted micron-scale structures to control over spatial distribution of incorporated cells. We expect that this design strategy holds promise for the development of more advanced artificial tissues that can promote high levels of cell metabolic activity and recapitulate key architectural features.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1005211107

    View details for Web of Science ID 000284762400026

    View details for PubMedID 21071674

  • The reliable targeting of specific drug release profiles by integrating arrays of different albumin-encapsulated microsphere types BIOMATERIALS Lee, W., Wiseman, M. E., Cho, N., Glenn, J. S., Frank, C. W. 2009; 30 (34): 6648-6654

    Abstract

    Biodegradable polymer microspheres have been successfully utilized as a medium for controlled protein or peptide-based drug release. Because the release kinetics has been typically controlled by modulating physical or chemical properties of the medium, these parameters must be optimized to obtain a specific release profile. However, due to the complexity of the release mechanism and the complicated interplay between various design parameters of the release medium, detailed prediction of the resulting release profile is a challenge. Herein we suggest a simple method to target specific release profiles more efficiently by integrating release profiles for an array of different microsphere types. This scheme is based on our observation that the resulting release profile from a mixture of different samples can be predicted as the linear summation of the individually measured release profiles of each sample. Hence, by employing a linear equation at each time point and formulating them as a matrix equation, we could determine how much of each microsphere type to include in a mixture in order to have a specific release profile. In accordance with this method, several targeted release profiles were successfully obtained. We expect that the proposed method will allow us to overcome limitations in controlling complicated release mechanisms so that drug delivery systems can be reliably designed to satisfy clinical demands.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2009.08.035

    View details for Web of Science ID 000271347900010

    View details for PubMedID 19775742

  • Viral infection of human progenitor and liver-derived cells encapsulated in three-dimensional PEG-based hydrogel BIOMEDICAL MATERIALS Cho, N., Elazar, M., Xiong, A., Lee, W., Chiao, E., Baker, J., Frank, C. W., Glenn, J. S. 2009; 4 (1)

    Abstract

    We have studied the encapsulation of human progenitor cells into 3D PEG hydrogels. Replication-incompetent lentivirus promoter reporter vectors were found to efficiently detect the in vivo expression of human hepatic genes in hydrogel-encapsulated liver progenitor cells. Similarly, hydrogel-encapsulated cells could be efficiently infected with hepatitis C virus, and progeny infectious virus could be recovered from the media supernatants of the hydrogels. Provocatively, the diameters of these virus particles range from approximately 50 to 100 nm, while the calculated mesh size of the 8 k hydrogel is 44.6 +/- 1.7 A. To reconcile how viral particles can penetrate the hydrogels to infect the encapsulated cells, we propose that microfractures/defects of the hydrogel result in a functional pore size of up to 20 fold greater than predicted by theoretical mesh calculations. These results suggest a new model of hydrogel structure, and have exciting implications for tissue engineering and hepatitis virus studies.

    View details for DOI 10.1088/1748-6041/4/1/011001

    View details for Web of Science ID 000263071200001

    View details for PubMedID 18981544