Position: Professor of Practice and Faculty Graduate Coordinator
Address: Iacocca Hall
111 Research Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Areas of Research
- Life Sciences and Bioengineering
- Neuronal Cell Biology
- Cell and Tissue Engineering
Susan Perry's research interests cover directed cell migration for application with BioMEMs devices, and cell differentiation and bioactive scaffolds.
Development of neuronal circuitry, sensory systems, learning and memory involve the interaction of complex networks of neurons and supporting cells, and Perry seeks a better understanding of the cellular processes underlying neuronal differentiation and development. One approach to investigating neuronal activity is to grow defined arrays of neurons on a substrate containing built-in electrodes capable of sensing the electrical signals generated by individual neurons. These multielectrode arrays (MEA) are also capable of providing electrical stimulation in a regulated manner followed by recording of the resulting electrical activity. Perry works with collaborators to develop a novel MEA that utilizes electrical, chemical and mechanical methods to recruit and confine neurons to specific, electrode-containing locations. Isolating individual neurons at specific locations within a predefined substrate that contains special channels for neurites will subsequently allow for predictable neurite outgrowth and ultimately the formation of a patterned neuronal network.
Perry also explores how biocompatible scaffolds may aid in the regeneration of lost or damaged tissue. For a tissue engineering scaffold to succeed, several critical factors are required, including material biocompatibility, cell adhesion and ingrowth, and in many cases, differentiation of the exogenous cells, into mature cells, capable of restoring function. Yet, the signals necessary to trigger the differentiation of different cell types in bioactive scaffolds, is not completely understood. She is interested in understanding the mechanisms (mechanical, electrical and chemical) directing the development and differentiation of a number of different cell types, including the differentiation of pre-osteoblasts into fully mature, bone matrix-producing cells, and pluripotent stem cells into mature neurons, adipocytes and osteoblasts.