Kristi Anseth, Ph.D.'s picture
Anseth, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor
Tisone Professor
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the BioFrontiers Institute

University of Colorado Boulder


Kristi S. Anseth earned her B.S. degree from Purdue University in 1992 and her Ph.D. degree from the University of Colorado in 1994.  She then conducted post-doctoral research at MIT as an NIH fellow and subsequently joined the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado at Boulder as an Assistant Professor in 1996.  Dr. Anseth is presently a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering.  Her research interests lie at the interface between biology and engineering where she designs new biomaterials for applications in drug delivery and regenerative medicine.  Dr. Anseth’s research group has published over 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals and presented over 180 invited lectures in the fields of biomaterials and tissue engineering.  She was the first engineer to be named a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and received the Alan T. Waterman Award, the highest award of the National Science Foundation for demonstrated exceptional individual achievement in scientific or engineering research.  In 2009, she was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.  Dr. Anseth is also a dedicated teacher, who has received four University Awards related to her teaching, as well as the American Society for Engineering Education’s Curtis W. McGraw Award.  Dr. Anseth is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.  She serves on the editorial boards or as associate editor of Biomacromolecules, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research — Part A, Acta Biomaterialia, Progress in Materials Science, and Biotechnology & Bioengineering.

Title of Abstract

Development and Application of Photoadaptable Hydrogels for Culturing Intestinal Organoids and Directing Crypt Formation

Presenting Author

Kristi Anseth, Ph.D.


Hydrogels possess a number of material properties that render them useful as synthetic extracellular matrices for 3D cell culture or cell delivery systems for regenerative medicine; these properties include cytocompatibility, ease of functionalization, and physical properties similar to many soft tissues. Many synthetic hydrogel systems are highly tunable, both in terms of their mechanical and biochemical properties, and when combined with advanced processing methods, experimenters can create hydrogels with gradients, patterned ligands or other hierarchical structures found in native tissues. While the ability to control and manipulate hydrogel properties across many size scales has been powerful, the native extracellular matrix (ECM) is a dynamic environment, particularly during development, wound healing, and disease, and biological and mechanical signals can change dramatically with time. The ability to dynamically tune hydrogel properties can be lost in many synthetic ECM mimics, especially if they are crosslinked and functionalized by irreversible covalent bonds.  In an effort to capture the variable nature of native cellular microenvironments, we have synthesized hydrogels containing allyl sulfide functionalities that are capable of rapid photoinduced network reorganization.  In the presence of a photoinitiator, the allyl sulfide containing crosslinks can undergo a light-mediated addition fragmentation chain-transfer (AFCT) reaction, which allows for in situ manipulation of cell-laden matrices.  This talk will highlight results where the AFCT reaction is leveraged to erode, stiffen/soften, or induce transient plasticity in the presence of intestinal crypt stem cells, and subsequently highlight the 2-photon spatial temporal control of the gel properties to direct the growth of intestinal organoids and their crypt structures.

Research Interests

A major focus of research in the Anseth group is the development of biomaterial scaffolds with highly-controlled architectures and chemistries for three-dimensional cell culture, tissue regeneration, and biological arrays and/or assays.

We are particularly interested in understanding how cells receive information from materials and what happens to cell function over time when assembled within three-dimensional microenvironments. Our approach exploits classical engineering principles and modeling, as control is required on many time scales, from seconds to months, and on many size scales, from the molecular to macroscopic.

Our methods include the design of passive biomaterial niches that simply permit cells to function, as well as bioactive environments that dynamically promote or suppress specific cellular responses, including proliferation, differentiation, and extracellular matrix production.

Our research spans the spectrum of fundamental studies to better understand the role of the biomaterial environment on cell function and the biology of tissue formation to targeted clinical applications in the design of in situ forming cell carriers that promote healing. Further, we use these materials to develop novel techniques to characterize and screen cell-material interactions, rapidly detect biological molecules through controlled surface chemistries, and develop models to study cellular pathology.


University of Colorado at Boulder