dr. Heidi A Declercq (PhD)
Principal investigator - Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Group ( UGent)
Coordinator of the Bioprinting facility
Doctor-assistant (Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UGent)
Lecturer for Biomedical sciences and Biomedical engineering
Dr. Heidi Declercq is research and Bioprint coordinator of the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Group, UGent. Biofabrication of cell/biomaterial constructs was focused on bone and cartilage but is now expanded towards heart/ nerve/meniscus tissue engineering and vascularization. Dr. H. Declercq was actively involved during the evolution of the tissue engineering strategies and introduced bottom-up or modular tissue engineering. The research of the group is focused towards the biofabrication of complex and vascularized tissues. Modular cellular building blocks (microtissues) are obtained via high throughput microchip systems and can be combined with smart biomaterials. The 3D Cell and Tissue Bioprinter recently purchased by Dr. H. Declercq is unique in Belgium and a huge asset for UGent. With multiple printheads, different cell types, extracellular matrices and biomolecules can be patterned in desirable 3D structures. This unique technology provides spatial control of cells and biomolecules within an appropriate ECM. Since engineering of complex and vascularized miniature tissue remains a challenge, future studies will focus on bioprinting of microtissues and smart biomaterials to create miniature tissues with a complex histoarchitecture mimicking the tissue/organ of interest. Smart biomaterials will support the printed macrotissue until fusion and maturation of the microtissues is completed. These 3D printed tissues in a dish are 3D organomimetic in vitro models with true-to-life morphology that better mirrors the environment experienced by cells. The biofabrication of miniature tissues can be used for studies regarding drug development, toxicity screening, in vitro models of human diseases (e.g. cancer) and opens the way of the application of tissue engineered constructs in the pharmaceutical research and industry. In this way, biofabrication will lead to more understanding and the potential to help people.
The bioprinting facility can provide services for other researchers.
- Leen Pieters - technician
- Johanna Aernoudt - technician