Dr. Maoz is a new faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and the Sagol School of Neuroscience at Tel Aviv University. He returned to Israel after completing his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard. His research develops a new method for studying human physiology, focusing on the brain: "Organs-on-a-Chip" (OOC). These provide a conceptually new direction as organ functionality is mimicked in a microfluidic chip by using human cells. This concept enables us to tackle fundamental questions in human physiology without the need for human or animal experimentation.
About the project
Pharmaceutical development and basic biomedical research are dependent on model systems that recapitulate human drug responses in terms of pharmacokinetics (drug distribution and turn-over) and pharmacodynamics (drug effects). Animal models are extensively used, but often show very low correlation to human responses. Conventional two-dimensional cell cultures in well-plates, the golden standard in vitro model displays a low degree of physiological functions and cannot recapitulate human organ-organ interactive processes. Advanced three-dimensional cell culture models, typically cell clusters called organoids, have lately shown highly improved physiological functions such as levels and maintenance of essential drug metabolizing enzymes. These organoids are however still studied in non-physiological static wells with no possibility of modelling organ-organ interactions. Micro-engineering has recently been used to create so-called Organ Chip models where cells are cultured in microfluidic compartments to improve the physiological resemblance of the system. Today, there are a few experimental platforms that have demonstrated interesting data for single and connected Organ Chips. Unfortunately, none of these platforms have made a major impact in biomedicine since they do not match the essential criteria of being user-friendly for biologists in academy and industry, suitable for larger-scale production and engineered for the most relevant physiological functions. This project has the goal to develop a modular high throughput fluidic platform for human organ-organ interaction studies that fulfil these needs. We have composed a team of micro-engineers, material developers and biologists that can realize this system.