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RESEARCH AREAS > Research Staff Details

Synthetic Biosystems


YU Hanry
Group Leader

Tel: 6824 7103
Email: hyu@ibn.a-star.edu.sg

View CV

Visiting Professor, Department of Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA, 2011-2013
Principal Investigator, MechanoBiology Institute, Singapore, since 2011
Director, NUHS Research Core Facilities, Confocal Microscopy Unit & Flow Cytometry
Laboratory, National University Health System, since 2011
Professor, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Singapore, since 2008

Ph. D. in Cell Biology, Duke University, 1994
M. Sc. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Washington University-St. Louis, 1990
B. Sc. (Hons.) in Biochemistry, Michigan State University, 1987

Projects Publications Patents

Synthetic Biosystems

1. Digital Livers: Quantitative Analysis of the Dynamic Processes of Liver Regeneration and Chronic Liver Diseases

Ziwei Song, Yu Yang and Hanry Yu

We have developed optical imaging modalities to quantify cellular and extracellular changes in tissues. The instruments and machine-learning based image-processing/feature analysis algorithms developed are used to automate and improve pathological examinations related to (i) liver fibrosis, (ii) cholestasis and (iii) non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases. This helps to shed light on the etiology of the diseases quantitatively. We have developed a high-throughput tissue imaging platform to quantify tissue/cell and matrix features of big blocks of tissue in mice or the entire biopsy sample at molecular and cellular resolutions for 3D characterization of disease progression. We have spun off an award-winning company, HistoIndex Pte Ltd, from this project, and licensed key technologies to another start-up company, InvitroCue Pte Ltd, to create an impact in the digital pathology and telemedicine landscape. The team is also investigating the fundamental process of liver regeneration by quantifying and modeling the mechanical and biochemical regulation of the cellular hypertrophy.

2. Drug Testing Platforms: Development of Robust, Inexpensive, Scalable and Predictive Assays for Safety Testing of Drugs and Chemicals

Farah Tasnim, Jiangwa Xing, Xiaozhong Huang and Hanry Yu

Cell-based assays for in vitro toxicity evaluation are attracting increasing attention from institutions and companies involved in the development of drugs and industrial chemicals. The major bottlenecks are the lack of stable human primary cells, and cell-culture models that recapitulate the in vivo physiological responses to the tested compounds. So far, only the sandwich culture of liver cells is accepted by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for routine hepatotoxicity testing of drugs. To improve the cell-based assays, we have developed (i) a scalable aligned substrate on optical media, (ii) two improved spheroid models for acute and chronic toxicity testing, respectively, (iii) a co-culture model for idiosyncratic toxicity, (iv) three perfusion-based models for improved sensitivity to detect metabolites, (v) a developmental toxin based on morphogenic migration of human stem cells, and (vi) stable and robust cell sources from human stem or progenitor cells. We are validating these established models for hepatotoxicity and teratogen testing of compounds, and improving the performance of these platforms for robustness, predictive fidelity, scalability and cost. We are also extending the applications of these models to sub-acute/chronic hepatotoxicity in order to better mimic “in vivo-like” conditions.

3. Engineering Complex Tissues: Spatial and Temporal Control of Microenvironment

Zheng Liu (Justinian), Farah Tasnim and Hanry Yu

Complex tissues with multiple cell types will be engineered by controlling cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions through (i) engineering inter-cellular linkers for 3D printing, (ii) engineering cellular response to the chemical and mechanical signals by developing ultra-soft macroporous sponges that are robust, transparent, degradable and enhancing compact spheroid formation, and (iii) fabricating relevant 3D microfluidics, micro-patterns and ultra-thin porous membranes incorporating mechanical compaction and multiple cell types for organ-on-a-chip applications, such as a liver cancer chip to aid chemotherapy testing. This project establishes the fundamental principles, toolboxes and devices to precision-engineer micro-tissue constructs of different cell types and inter-cellular tissue space (such as sinusoid and bile canaliculi in liver) for repeated dose testing of compounds that require mid-term (> 2-4 weeks) or long-term (up to 6 weeks) culture of micro-tissue constructs.


18 Sep
Falling Walls Lab Singapore 2017

6 Dec - 10 Dec
5th Nano Today Conference

Event Calendar   


Molecular Characterization of Circulating Colorectal Tumor Cells Defines Genetic Signatures for Individualized Cancer Care
Oncotarget, (2017)
DOI: 10.18632/oncotarget.19138.
(IF: 5.168) article

Metformin Inhibits Cellular Proliferation and Bioenergetics in Colorectal Cancer Patient-Derived Xenografts
Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, (2017)
DOI: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-16-0793.
(IF: 5.764) article

Unique Thermal Stability of Unnatural Hydrophobic Ds Bases in Double-Stranded DNAs
ACS Synthetic Biology, (2017)
DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.7b00165.
(IF: 5.382) article



Research Positions

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