Engineered in vitro disease models

Kambez H. Benam*, Stephanie Dauth, Bryan Hassell, Anna Herland, Abhishek Jain, Kyung Jin Jang, Katia Karalis, Hyun Jung Kim, Luke MacQueen, Roza Mahmoodian, Samira Musah, Yu Suke Torisawa, Andries D. Van Der Meer, Remi Villenave, Moran Yadid, Kevin K. Parker, Donald E. Ingber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

434 Citations (Scopus)


The ultimate goal of most biomedical research is to gain greater insight into mechanisms of human disease or to develop new and improved therapies or diagnostics. Although great advances have been made in terms of developing disease models in animals, such as transgenic mice, many of these models fail to faithfully recapitulate the human condition. In addition, it is difficult to identify critical cellular and molecular contributors to disease or to vary them independently in whole-animal models. This challenge has attracted the interest of engineers, who have begun to collaborate with biologists to leverage recent advances in tissue engineering and microfabrication to develop novel in vitro models of disease. As these models are synthetic systems, specific molecular factors and individual cell types, including parenchymal cells, vascular cells, and immune cells, can be varied independently while simultaneously measuring system-level responses in real time. In this article, we provide some examples of these efforts, including engineered models of diseases of the heart, lung, intestine, liver, kidney, cartilage, skin and vascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems, as well as models of infectious diseases and cancer. We also describe how engineered in vitro models can be combined with human inducible pluripotent stem cells to enable new insights into a broad variety of disease mechanisms, as well as provide a test bed for screening new therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-262
Number of pages68
JournalAnnual Review of Pathology: Mechanisms of Disease
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • 3D culture
  • disease model
  • in vitro tool
  • microfluidic
  • organ-on-a-chip
  • tissue engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Engineered in vitro disease models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this