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Engineering Self-Organizing Biliary Organoids from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

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Cholangiocytes, the epithelial cells of the bile duct, are the origin of cholangiopathies which often necessitate liver transplants. Current progress in generating functional biliary organoids show potential for modelling cholangiopathies and validating therapeutic drugs. Organoids by groups Ogawa et al.

Cholangiocytes, the epithelial cells of the bile duct, are the origin of cholangiopathies which often necessitate liver transplants. Current progress in generating functional biliary organoids show potential for modelling cholangiopathies and validating therapeutic drugs. Organoids by groups Ogawa et al. and Sampaziotis et al. utilize soluble molecule induction, OP9 co-culture, and three-dimensional culture to achieve self-organizing tissues which express mature cholangiocyte markers and show cholangiocyte functionality. This thesis describes our efforts to establish a standard for functional PSC-derived bile duct tissues. By directing cell fate and patterning through external cues alone, we were able to produce CK19+ALB+ hepatoblast-like cells. These soluble molecule-induced cells also expressed EpCAM and CEBPA, suggesting the presence of early liver epithelial cells. However, inconsistent results and high levels of cell death with soluble molecule induction in early stages of differentiation prompted the development of a combinatory differentiation method which utilized multiple differentiation tools. We opted to combine transcription-factor triggered differentiation with soluble molecule-mediated differentiation to produce early biliary cells with the potential to develop into mature cholangiocytes. By combining genetic engineering through the activation of doxycycline-inducible GATA6 switch and microbead-mediated CXCR4 separation, we generated patterned tissues which expressed early biliary markers, CD146, CK19, and SOX9. In the future, three-dimensional cell culture and OP9 co-culture could improve our current results by facilitating 3D cellular self-organization and promoting NOTCH signaling for cholangiocyte maturation. Next steps for this research include optimizing media formulations, tracking gene expression over time, and testing the functionality of generated tissues.

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2017-05

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Expansion Algorithms in Self-Organizing Particle Systems

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A primary goal in computer science is to develop autonomous systems. Usually, we provide computers with tasks and rules for completing those tasks, but what if we could extend this type of system to physical technology as well? In the

A primary goal in computer science is to develop autonomous systems. Usually, we provide computers with tasks and rules for completing those tasks, but what if we could extend this type of system to physical technology as well? In the field of programmable matter, researchers are tasked with developing synthetic materials that can change their physical properties \u2014 such as color, density, and even shape \u2014 based on predefined rules or continuous, autonomous collection of input. In this research, we are most interested in particles that can perform computations, bond with other particles, and move. In this paper, we provide a theoretical particle model that can be used to simulate the performance of such physical particle systems, as well as an algorithm to perform expansion, wherein these particles can be used to enclose spaces or even objects.

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2015-05

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Ecosystem spatial heterogeneity: formation, consequences, and feedbacks

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An understanding of the formation of spatial heterogeneity is important because spatial heterogeneity leads to functional consequences at the ecosystem scale; however, such an understanding is still limited. Particularly, research simultaneously considering both external variables and internal feedbacks (self-organization) is

An understanding of the formation of spatial heterogeneity is important because spatial heterogeneity leads to functional consequences at the ecosystem scale; however, such an understanding is still limited. Particularly, research simultaneously considering both external variables and internal feedbacks (self-organization) is rare, partly because these two drivers are addressed under different methodological frameworks. In this dissertation, I show the prevalence of internal feedbacks and their interaction with heterogeneity in the preexisting template to form spatial pattern. I use a variety of techniques to account for both the top-down template effect and bottom-up self-organization. Spatial patterns of nutrients in stream surface water are influenced by the self-organized patch configuration originating from the internal feedbacks between nutrient concentration, biological patchiness, and the geomorphic template. Clumps of in-stream macrophyte are shaped by the spatial gradient of water permanence and local self-organization. Additionally, significant biological interactions among plant species also influence macrophyte distribution. The relative contributions of these drivers change in time, responding to the larger external environments or internal processes of ecosystem development. Hydrologic regime alters the effect of geomorphic template and self-organization on in-stream macrophyte distribution. The relative importance of niche vs. neutral processes in shaping biodiversity pattern is a function of hydrology: neutral processes are more important in either very high or very low discharge periods. For the spatial pattern of nutrients, as the ecosystem moves toward late succession and nitrogen becomes more limiting, the effect of self-organization intensifies. Changes in relative importance of different drivers directly affect ecosystem macroscopic properties, such as ecosystem resilience. Stronger internal feedbacks in average to wetter years are shown to increase ecosystem resistance to elevated external stress, and make the backward shifts (vegetation loss) much more gradual. But it causes increases in ecosystem hysteresis effect. Finally, I address the question whether functional consequences of spatial heterogeneity feed back to influence the processes from which spatial heterogeneity emerged through a conceptual review. Such feedbacks are not likely. Self-organized spatial patterning is a result of regular biological processes of organisms. Individual organisms do not benefit from such order. It is order for free, and for nothing.

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2015