• Principal Investigator: Professor Thomas H. Barker

    Department of Biomedical Engineering

    School of Engineering & School of Medicine

    University of Virginia

    the matrix biology and engineering lab

  • The Extracellular Matrix (ECM) of tissues constitutes both the structural and mechanical support for cells, but recently we've learned it is much, much more...

    Cells both generate and sense forces, establishing a complex feedback loop that ensures mechanical homeostasis between the cell and its microenvironment.

    What happens when this delicate balance is disrupted?

  • what we do

    Novel Regulators of Cell Mechanotransduction

    The quiet influence of Thy-1

    Thy-1, and perhaps numerous GPI-linked, integrin binding membrane proteins, have tremendous potential to alter how cells sense and respond to their mechanical environment.

    Hijacking the Cell's Mechanotransduction Machinery

    Finding the leverage point

    A host of intracellular signaling molecules and transcription factors help realize the cell's intended responses to the mechanical microenvironment.

    Hey, don't forget the Matrix

    Fibronectin is our hyper-elastic friend

    Fibronectin and many other ECM proteins exhibit significant molecular deformation under force. Do these deformations drive meaningful altered interactions with cells?

    Time is not on our side

    The incongruity between acute mechanotransduction and chronic disease progression

    How mechanotransduction within cells and the matrix drive lasting changes in tissue remodeling are incompletely understood.

  • the motley crew

    Countless hours, poor pay, and an absent-minded Principal Investigator all qualify these guys as heroes & lab rats!

    Research Scientist

    Jagath's research focuses on mapping of mechanically-triggered cryptic epitopes, antibody development and production of potential therapeutics.

    Research Scientist

    Ping is focused on endogenous cis-acting integrin regulators that establish stromal cell programming through aberrant mechanotransduction.

    NRSA (F32) Postdoctoral Fellow, K99/R00 MOSAIC Fellow

    Dan is investigating the roles innate immunity and cytokine signaling play in contributing to the onset of fibrosis.

    5th Year PhD Candidate, Biotechnology Training Grant Fellow

    Drew's PhD research is focused on identifying genomic mechanosensors in stiffness-driven diseases like fibrosis

    5th Year PhD Candidate,

    Cancer Training Grant Fellow, NIH F99/K00 Fellow

    Grace's PhD research is focused on the role of lung draining lymph node fibrotic remodeling in interstitial lung disease.


    Ph.D. & Postdoc (PD)


    Dr. Sarah Stabenfeldt (PD '07-'10)- Arizona State University

    Dr. Ashley Brown (PhD & PD '06-'15) - North Carolina State University

    Dr. Allyson Soon (PhD '06-'12) - Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

    Dr. Rodney Averett (PD '07-'10) - University of Georgia

    Dr. Kelly Clause (PD '07-'10) - RayBiotech, Inc

    Dr. Lizhi Cao (PhD '08-'14)- Palleon Pharmaceuticals


    Ph.D. & Postdoc (PD)


    Dr. Marilyn Markowski (PhD '09-'13) - Stryker

    Dr. Vincent Fiore (PhD '08-'14) - Boehringer Ingelheim

    Dr. Alison Douglas (PhD '10-'15) -Bristol Myers Squibb

    Dr. Anton Bryksin (PD '12-'13; SS '15-'16) - Georgia Institute of Technology

    Dr. Michelle Gaines (PD '15-'16)- Spelman College

    Dr. Haylee Bachman (PhD '12-'17) - Lonza Corp.


    Ph.D. & Postdoc (PD)


    Dr. Vicky Stefanelli (PhD '12-'18) - Integra LifeSciences

    Dr. Dwight M. Chambers (PhD '12-'18) - Emory School of Medicine

    Dr. John Nicosia (PhD '13-'19) - Biolocity

    Dr. Riley Hannan (PhD '16-'20) - Univ. of Virginia

    Dr. Leandro Moretti (PhD '15-'21) - Bristol Myers Squibb (MA)

    Dr. Wei Li (PD '15-'21) - Ray Biotech Life

    Dr. Vinecnt Yeh (SS '15-'21) - Bristol Myers Squibb (CA)

  • The Cautiously optimistic leader


    We're all just trying to find happiness

    The folks in my lab remind me that we are each on a journey. Sometimes we have detours and sometimes we find ourselves unintentionally in the fast lane. They help me on my journey every day and I hope, in return, I help them find their way too.


    My own "regenerative medicine" experiment

    In collaboration with Dr. Shannon Barker, I am attempting to grow two small organisms that share remarkable similarities to the collaborative team at both the molecular and macroscopic scale.


    The small band of humans that tolerate me

    Thankfully a handfull of individuals put up with me and for that I'm very grateful.  These folks share a common love for food, travel, and family 


    Yeah, major driver in my life

    I have a healthy love for cooking and eating.  I like to cook and eat just about anywhere I am.  Eating is good and I particularly like eating at places that take you someplace you've never been before.

  • Our funding

    The 3 "P"s of great progress: patience, perseverance, and penny

    NIH Director's Transformative Research Award

    Mechanosensors that Detect and Treat Lung Fibrosis

    Department of Defense

    Development of platelet-like particles for augmentation of hemostasis

    National Institutes of Health (NHLBI)

    Targeting integrin signaling and mechanotransduction in Pulmonary Fibrosis

    National Institutes of Health (NHLBI)

    Augmenting hemostasis with platelet-like particles

    National Science Foundation

    5 NSF GRP Fellows

    2 Graduate Trainees

    National Institutes of Health

    5 Postdoc & Fellow-to-Faculty Fellowships

    8 Predoctoral MD/PhD & PhD Fellows & Trainees

    American Heart Association

    2 Postdoc & Predoctoral Fellows

  • What's Happening

    Look how good we are :)

  • our universe

    Links to resources, societies, and random things

    Lab Protocols/Research Images


    American Society for Matrix Biology

    American Thoracic Society


    Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society

    Society for Biomaterials

  • Connect With Us

    We're always looking for eager, ambitious students, postdocs, and scientists

    Just click the EMAIL icon below to inquire


    Google Scholar

    Research Gate



    BME Department

    University of Virginia

    MR5, Rm 1225

    415 Lane Rd.

    Charlottesville, VA 22904

    (434) 924-1729

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