Lonnie Shea, Ph.D.'s picture
Shea, Ph.D.
Professor and William and Valerie Hall Chair
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Kresge Hearing Research Institute

University of Michigan


Lonnie Shea received his PhD in chemical engineering and scientific computing from Michigan in 1997. He received his PhD in chemical engineering and scientific computing from U-M in 1997, working with Professor Jennifer Linderman. He then served as a postdoctoral fellow with then ChE Professor David Mooney in the Department of Biologic and Materials Science at the U-M Dental School.

Shea had been on the faculty of Northwestern University’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering from 1999 to 2014. In 2014, Shea moved to the University of Michigan as chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. He is an internationally recognized researcher at the interface of regenerative medicine, drug and gene delivery, and immune engineering, whose focus is on both the local microenvironment and systemic responses for directing tissue growth or regeneration. Some of the projects in his lab include nerve regeneration for treating paralysis, autoimmune diseases and allogeneic cell transplantation, and cancer diagnostics. He is also developing and applying systems biology approaches to molecularly dissect tissue formation and identify key drivers of normal and abnormal growth.

Shea has published more than 200 manuscripts, and has numerous inventions to his credit. He served as director of Northwestern’s NIH Biotechnology Training Grant and was a member of its Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), a standing member of the Biomaterials and Biointerfaces study section at NIH, and a member of the editorial boards for Molecular Therapy, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, and Drug Delivery and Translational Research.

Title of Abstract

Immune-engineering in Regenerative Medicine


Undesired immune responses are a major barrier to tissue function and regenerative therapies. These responses include i) inflammatory responses following trauma can lead to cell death and scar formation, ii) autoimmune responses target specific cell populations disrupt organ and tissue function, iii) allogeneic responses to transplanted cells can limit their survival and their ability to promote regeneration. Therapeutic strategies must often overcome one or more of these undesired inflammatory, autoimmune or allogeneic responses. We have developed nanoparticles that are delivered intravenously that can reprogram immune responses systemically. These nanoparticles have targeted innate responses to alter inflammatory responses and to tolerize autoimmune or allogeneic responses to specific antigens. Additionally, we have created synthetic niches for which local immunomodulation can enhance regeneration and restore function, with applications to spinal cord injury and Type 1 Diabetes. The niche has also been modified to prevent immune rejection of the transplanted cells. Our most recent work has used the scaffolds as a platform to guide the development of stem cells into functional islets. The presentation will address both local and systemic immune responses, with their analysis and modulation being applied to stage disease, reprogram responses, and ultimately promote regeneration. 

Research Interests

The Shea Lab works at the interface of regenerative medicine, biomaterials, and gene and drug delivery. The central theme for the various projects is creating synthetic environments which can be employed to molecularly dissect tissue formation or promote regeneration. Of particular emphasis in the lab is:

  • Identifying the fundamental design parameters for delivery of gene therapy vectors from biomaterials. We investigate strategies based on either sustained release approach or surface immobilization (i.e., substrate mediated delivery). These design parameters provide a fundamental tool for numerous applications.
  • Applying the controllable microenvironments to in vitro and in vivo models of tissue formation, including ovarian follicle maturation, nerve regeneration, and islet transplantation.
  • Developing diagnostic assays for cancer research using the fundamental tools of gene delivery from biomaterials.


University of Michigan