Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering Seminar


Force of the Dark Side: Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts at the Tumor Microenvironment


Dr. Bumsoo Han


Purdue University


Thursday, October 10, 2019 at 11:00:00 AM


IBB Building, Room 1128


Dr. Susan Thomas


The tumor microenvironment (TME) is a complex and chaotic bed for tumor growth. It comprises a highly heterogeneous mixture of tumor and stromal cells, primarily cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), embedded in a rich extracellular matrix (EMC). At this complex environment, CAFs have been thought to play an important role in cancer progression. Many studies have reported that CAFs secrete cancer promoting growth factors and cytokines. In addition, CAFs synthesize and remodel the ECM, and generate mechanical tension in the desmoplastic stroma. These pathological changes by CAFs can also contribute to drug delivery barriers to tumors, resulting in sub-therapeutic doses which escalate therapeutic resistance. However, several recent studies showed that depletion of CAFs resulted in a marked stromal reduction but a more aggressive, undifferentiated cancers, exhibiting enhanced cancer cell proliferation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition. These observations suggest that CAFs can play either pro- or anti-cancer roles, whose underlying mechanisms are still unclear. The difficulty in understanding the role of CAFs primarily stems from the lack of reliable tumor model capable of recapitulating the delicate interplay between CAFs and other components of the TME. In this talk, I will present my group's research to understand and manipulate these complex transport and biomechanical interfacial interactions among cancer cells, CAFs, interstitial fluid and extracellular matrix. Specifically, we have been developing a new in vitro tumor model, called tumor-microenvironment-on-chip T-MOC, for breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers. This (T-MOC) is further used to study cancer-stroma interaction during cancer metastasis including EMT, and to discover and identify druggable molecular targets.


Bumsoo Han is a Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University. He is also B.S.F. Schaefer Outstanding Young Faculty Scholar and Discovery Park Fellow at Birck Nanotechnology Center. He serves as Leader of Drug Delivery and Molecular Sensing Program of NCI-designated Purdue Center for Cancer Research. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, and his M.S. and B.S. from Seoul National University in Korea. After his Ph.D., he was a Post-doctoral Research Associate in Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. His research interests are in biotransport phenomena for cancer therapy and tissue engineering. He received US DOD Postdoctoral Award for Breast Cancer Research, NSF CAREER Award, Faculty Fellowship from US Air Force Research Laboratory (Predictive Toxicology Program), and Richard Skalak Best Paper Award from ASME Journal of Biomechanical Engineering. Recently, he is the recipient of Faculty of Excellence Early Career Research Award from Purdue University, and Brain Pool Korea Fellowship from Ministry of Science of South Korea.