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Jordan Miller joins Rice University bioengineering core faculty

New faculty position focuses on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine

By Shawn Hutchins
Rice BIOE News

Jordan Miller_web 
Jordan Miller and the printed 3D filament networks of carbohydrate glass he developed at Penn. The scaffolds combine with living cells to promote oxygen delivery to engineered tissues. Photo by the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania / Kelsh Wilson Design. 

Jordan S. Miller will join Rice University in July 2013. The recruitment of Miller is strategic to the expansion of the university's bioengineering program and its efforts to offer students access to leading research in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Miller, appointed an assistant professor of bioengineering, specializes in combining synthetic chemistry with novel synthetic microfabrication techniques to direct endothelial cell function and provide nontoxic, degradable architectures for blood vessel sprouting and network development that lead to large-scale tissue growth.

Miller's engineered tissue constructs are also imaged and precisely controlled using multiphoton photopolymerization - a molecular modification process he studied in depth as a Rice Ph.D. graduate student in Professor Jennifer West's laboratory - that uses high-speed lasers to promote and track cell adhesion, migration, and function. West is now the Fitzpatrick Family University Professor of Engineering and professor of mechanical engineering and materials science at Duke University.

Recently, Miller explained how he developed vascular structures through 3D printing at a TEDx event (See the TEDTalks video). News of his invention was also published in the April 2013 print edition of Scientific American. To date, he has authored 16 peer-reviewed journals and two book chapters.

"Jordan Miller is a rising star in tissue engineering research, and is already known worldwide for his successful research and fabrication of novel biomimetic technologies that support blood vessel growth," said Rebecca Richards-Kortum, the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and chair of the Department of Bioengineering. "His passion for engineering, science and education, as well as his sharp entrepreneurial spirit will be a great addition to our program and to Rice."

Miller's research at Rice will expand upon his postdoctoral work in Professor Christopher S. Chen's group at the University of Pennsylvania where he developed new platform technologies for the multiscale vascularization of engineered tissues using synthetic and degradable scaffolds. One of the biomaterials strategies he developed, as described in the YouTube video above, utilizes an open source 3D printer for creating sacrificial vascularization templates made of a food-grade sugar. Resulting vascularized scaffolds successfully allowed sufficient mass transport for the promotion of angiogenic sprouting and keeping primary cells thriving even at high cell density.

Miller's work at Penn was supported by fellowships through the Hartwell Foundation (2008) and the National Institutes of Health National Research Service Award (NHLBI F32 NRSA). He has two U.S. patents and was named a core developer of the open-source 'RepRap 3D Printer' project.

Working at Rice's BioScience Research Collaborative, Miller will also launch the Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute (AMRI), which will be designed to attract rising stars in hardware and software engineering for the development of new tools and the pursuit of quantitative investigations. Miller is working with leading industry partners to award AMRI summer 2013 fellowships for qualifying trainees.

Miller is enthusiastic about returning to Rice BIOE where he earned his Ph.D. "Rice was already a leading research institution back when I was in grad school," he said. "Now with the world-class facilities of the BioScience Research Collaborative, the highly collaborative faculty, the proximity to the Texas Medical Center, and the demonstrated commitment of the entire Rice University leadership to the continued success of Rice BIOE, I am simply thrilled to start my research group here."

Miller has a B.S. in biology and a minor in biomedical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).