Author: Yau, Anne

Featured Image in Leica!

The world of microscopy is constantly evolving, driven by innovation and technological advancements that enable scientists to explore the intricate details of the microscopic realm. A recent post by Leica Microsystems unveils their latest contribution to this field – the Thunder Imager DM6, a cutting-edge microscopy platform designed to revolutionize imaging capabilities

Dr. Christophoer O’Connell, our PhD Director and Dr. Emery Ng, Facility Scientist of the UConn Research from the Center for Open Research Resources and Equipment (COR2E) uses an image of a section of a mouse heart stained with H&E to evaluate the toxicity of chemotherapy drug, performed by Jin Zhai (PhD Canditate) and Dr Yupeng Chen! This is an amazing image!

We are launching in NG-20!!

We are flying off to the International Space Station!! Ian and Anne are getting ready to go to the Kennedy Space Center to send our tissue engineered constructs with our Janus based Nanomatrix (JBNm) and Janus base Nanopieces (JBNp) to the Space Station inside Cubelab with the help of our implementation partner, Space Tango.

We have been waiting for this moment and we are so excited for this moment! Our Science is featured in the Nasa website found below! We will be flying in the NG-20 mission, coming up on 29th Jan 2024! Ian will be heading down to KSC on Wed and prepare the constructs to be launched on Jan 29th!

Science Launches to Space Station on NASA’s 20th Northrop Grumman Mission

SELECTBIO – Space Summit 2023

The Space Summit 2023, also known as “Chips in Space,” is an event organized by SelectBIO and scheduled to be held on July 26-27, 2023, in Orlando, Florida, cochaired by Jana Stoudemire from Axiom Space and Marc Giulianotti from Sierra Space.

The summit focuses on the deployment of life sciences technologies in space, particularly on the International Space Station (ISS), with a specific emphasis on organs-on-chips technology.

The conference brings together experts and professionals from various disciplines to share the most up-to-date information and research related to microgravity experiments on the ISS. It also covers other space projects such as the Axiom Station.

Key topics of discussion at the summit include stem cells, tissue chips in space, tissue engineering, mechanobiology, and 3D-bioprinting in space. The event features academic and industry presentations from stakeholders in the field, providing an opportunity for networking and scientific exchange. The major themes addressed in the summit are 3D-printing in space, organs-on-chips in space, and microphysiological systems in space. This conference aims to foster collaboration and innovation in the space research community, encouraging companies interested in developing technologies related to experiments aboard the ISS to participate.

Dr. Yupeng Chen was one of the keynote speakers in the event.


The CAPS Research Summer Program

The CAPS Research Scholars Program is an intensive program, an initiative designed for upper-division STEM students who are actively pursuing careers in academia. The program aims to equip scholars with a comprehensive academic background, making them highly competitive candidates for graduate studies and ensuring their success in earning Doctoral degrees in 8 weeks.

 Not only students participating this program will receive personalized counseling and guidance from faculty members, they will also receive assistance and preparation for applying to graduate schools by developing an amazing Ph.D application portfolio. This programs also allow them to build a researcher-identity by conducing a mentor-led independent research project full time for 8 weeks. Furthermore students participating this programs will establish connections with university staff, faculty, peer mentors and fostering valuable relationships within the university community, while getting to know themselves as well as familiarizing themselves with the campus and discovering the abundance of resources available to support their academic and personal growth.

This year, with our doctoral student, Ian Sands as her guidance our third year BME undergraduate student, Thuany Marielle Lachos, presented her work on July 26th, 2023 as the final part of the UConn CAPS Research Summer Program,

The title of her poster was “Characterizing the Piezoelectricity of DNA-inspired Janus Base Nano-materials for Ultrasound Driven Stimulation of Neural Cells”. Her project is a continuation of the research from another amazing undergrad who just graduated, Ryan DeMarco, had done in developing the JBNt/PVA films for piezoelectricity testing.  We hope she had a great time in the program! And Great Job!


Cultivated Meat: A Glimpse into the Future of Sustainable Dining

July 18th 2023, an article on cultivated meat technology with our JBN materials was published. 

UConn is developing cultivated meat technology. So when can you serve beef that harmed no cow?

Cultivated meat has only been in existence for about a decade, and researchers expect further breakthroughs to overcome current limitations. There are two main methods of cultivating meat: one involves growing animal cells in the lab, while the other utilizes pluripotent stem cells that can differentiate into meat or fat and can divide indefinitely. The latter approach holds the most promise for large-scale production.  Researchers at the University of Connecticut vouch for the authenticity of cultivated meat, affirming that it shares the same DNA as its animal counterparts. However, they acknowledge the challenges in scaling up production, making it more widely available. This development raises hopes for animal welfare but may not have an immediate impact on mitigating climate change due to its energy-intensive production process. Despite the challenges, researchers at UConn, including Professor Cindy Tian and Associate Professor Yupeng Chen, are committed to the advancement of cultivated meat technology. They are combining their expertise in DNA-based nanotechnology and pluripotent stem cells to contribute to its development.

The CEO of UPSIDE Foods, Eric Schulze, emphasizes the importance of scaling up production to make cultivated meat widely accessible and affordable. The company’s goal is to secure a portion of the global meat market, estimated at $1.7 trillion, and bring cultivated meat into commercial production in the next few years. While cultivated meat shows potential as a climate-friendly alternative, it is not a standalone solution to combat climate change. Schulze believes that reducing greenhouse gases through a transition from animal agriculture to plant-based options is crucial for a sustainable future. Cultivated meat presents a promising alternative to conventional animal-derived products, with potential benefits for animal welfare and reducing environmental impact. However, it still requires substantial research, innovation, and scalability to become a viable, mainstream solution for sustainable dining.

Article from UConn Today

Title: NASA Astronauts Contribute to Life-Saving Nanomaterial Experiments for UConn’s Biomedical Engineering Researchers

In a groundbreaking collaboration between NASA and our group, the University of Connecticut (UConn), astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have recently conducted a series of experiments with nanomaterials that hold immense potential for biomedical applications. These experiments, carried out in partnership with UConn’s biomedical engineering researchers, have the potential to revolutionize the field of medicine and contribute to life-saving advancements.

The awe-inspiring achievements of space exploration often extend far beyond the realms of astronomy and astrophysics. In this case, the remarkable environment of microgravity provided by the ISS serves as the perfect setting for conducting cutting-edge experiments with nanomaterials. The collaboration between NASA and UConn not only highlights the interdisciplinary nature of scientific research but also demonstrates the power of collaboration between academia and space agencies.

Overall, the article discusses the collaboration between NASA and us conducting nanomaterial experiments for BME research. The private astronauts, sponsored by Axiom Space based in Houston, boarded the International Space Station (ISS) on May 17th, conducted these experiments, taking advantage of the microgravity environment to study nanomaterial behavior without the interference of Earth’s gravity. The research aims to revolutionize medicine by exploring the applications of nanomaterials in areas such as targeted drug delivery, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. The partnership between NASA and UConn highlights the interdisciplinary nature of scientific research and the potential of collaborations between academia and space agencies. The article emphasizes the transformative impact of this collaboration and calls for continued research and cooperation to fully unlock the potential of nanomaterials in healthcare.


Congratulations to all our students who graduated this Spring!! We have Leah Faber, Olivia Rice and Ryan Demarco in the Master’s program, and Laura, Paige and Trystin in the Bachelor’s program!

Congratulation to Trystin! AND warm welcome to being our 1st year PHD student starting Summer 2023!!!!


Congratulations to Ryan, Olivia and Leah!!!! Best of luck in future endeavors!!

AX-2 mission

As you all know, our science (JBN materials) is heading to space in the AX-2 mission. How exciting is that? AX-2 is coming up real soon and we are looking forward to it.

AX-1 was Axiom Space’s first human spaceflight mission in the first-ever all-private astronaut mission (PAM), with over 200 lessons learned. On the other hand, AX-2 is a private astronaut mission, after the successful AX-1 mission to the ISS last year. AX-2 is a commercial mission comprising private astronauts and astronauts representing foreign governments. The vehicle for this mission is FREEDOM (named by CREW-4 who flew this Dragon vehicle to the ISS last year, days after the AX-1 mission returned. SpaceX is launching this mission on behalf of Axiom Space which is committed to having low earth orbit (LEO) accessible to everyone. Their mission is to safely launch AX-2 and safely return the astronauts 10 days later, the duration of the AX-2 mission. Currently, the astronauts are working on testing the spacesuits (link) and have worked on zero-G training to simulate flight, and centrifugation to simulate entry and launch scape. They have also done the HERA experience at the Johnson Space Center, where they were working in a confined arrangement and worked for 5 days.

The AX-2 is expected to launch in May taking up a total of 37 hours of flight, docking onto the ISS 2 days later. AX-2 has a little over 20 research, and over 130 hours of national lab science, they would do on board.

Back to our science, essentially, we are going to observe the formation of JBN materials in space! JBN as we know it, is stable at room temperature, has low toxicity, and has high biocompatibility. However, the fabrication of JBN products is far from perfect, and therefore, we are bringing it to the next level! Thanks to Axiom Space and NASA, we were given the opportunity to test the fabrication of our JBN product in space! The lack of microgravity may present an advantage for JBN fabrication which could be a promising start to support remote production for a variety of therapeutic products using JBN materials.

In this AX-2 mission, we will be sending two JBN products, JBNt, and proteins up to the ISS, then JBNm (and JBNt) will be fabricated in space by the astronauts in AX-2!  The JBN assembly will be monitored in orbit and in real-time!  Ground control will be performed either asynchronously or in parallel to mimic the experimental condition in microgravity, then the comparison will be done on both Flight and Ground samples!

An interview with Commander Peggy Whitson mentioned she is most looking forward to performing our science! She said that it will be most beneficial if we could realize the use of Nanotherapeutics for cartilage repair.  Commander Peggy Whitson, and the crew (John Shoffner – Ax-2 PilotAli Alqarni – Ax-2 Mission Specialist and Rayyanah Barnawi – Ax-2 Mission Specialist) will be doing the science and we will be watching in our lab (possibly in the wee hours of the day)

We are looking forward to the commercialization of space, one of the first steps taken by Axiom Space.


UConn, are you ready to FLY TO SPACE?

Great news to share!

Dr. Yupeng Chen and his research lab was featured on UConn Today on the 18th November 2022! The article can be found here! In the past year or so, Dr. Yupeng Chen submitted a proposal to NASA Research Announcement on In-Space (In-Spa) Production applications for low-Earth orbit (LEO). He successfully acquired a contract which was one of eight winning proposals submitted to NASA and will be conducting three In-Spa applications over three missions for 27 months!

We will be working with two partners, a UConn spinoff company, Eascra Biotech of Boston, and Axiom Space, a private aerospace company based in Houston, Texas to fabricate the Janus base nanomaterials (JBN) in space! We will be fabricating Janus base nanopiece (JBNp™), a delivery vehicle for mRNA and gene editing that can be used to treat diseases or produce a vaccine with oncological and neurological applications; and a Janus base nano-matrix (JBNm™), a porous, injectable material or scaffold onto which cells can adhere and grow.

We are excited to announce that our first flight will begin spring 2023! Two of the flights will be funded by NASA and one flight will be supported by Axiom’s private astronaut mission. Soon!!!

News and New Publication!

Good day everyone!


As you may know (or may not!) from our previous update, Maxwell Landolina (our undergraduate student) and Delaram Ghanbariamin (our Masters’ student) accepted the offer to be a full time Doctoral Student working under Dr. Yupeng Chen (Delaram will also be working with Dr. Ali Tamayol, dual advisors!!). Congratulations to them! This is exciting news for us and our lab! We are excited to welcome the graduate students! And of course, Leah will be joining us in Fall 2022 as a 4+1 Masters student (in BME), Ryan Demarco is currently working with us in the summer and is coming in as a Masters student as well! Our lab is expanding and WE ARE HERE FOR IT!  Max and Leah graduated, they will be joining us next Fall as graduate students. Sydney accepted a doctoral student position in UMASS Amherst, while Aaron Beams is going to work in industry (GO Aaron!). Allison Surian, our Master’s student, graduated!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS TO HER (Again :P)!

Onto another more recent news, we recently published a methods paper by JOVE!! Max and Anne worked on it and they had a video shoot as well! The paper is based on a paper by Libo et al.  Controlled Self-Assembly of DNA-Mimicking Nanotubes to Form a Layer-by-Layer Scaffold for Homeostatic Tissue Constructs

Our published JOVE  paper is here Fabrication and Characterization of Layer-by-Layer Janus Base Nano-Matrix to Promote Cartilage Regeneration with video coming soon (because we did that just past this week of July 4th 2022)!

Below is the picture of us (Max and Anne) doing a video shoot for the paper!

There are so many exciting news! We will bring them to you as soon as we can! Thank you for reading!