Faculty Profile

Brendan A Harley

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Brendan A Harley
Brendan A Harley
Professor and Robert W. Schaefer Faculty Scholar
110 Roger Adams Laboratory MC 712
600 S. Mathews
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 244-7112


  • Research Fellow, Joint Program in Transfusion Medicine, Children's Hospital Boston, 2006-2008
  • Sc.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006
  • S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2002
  • S.B., Harvard University, 2000


Brendan Harley is currently a Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a research theme leader in the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Harley develops biomaterials that replicate the dynamic, spatially-patterned, and heterogeneous microenvironment found in the tissues and organs of our body. He and members of his lab use this approach to generate new insight regarding how biomaterial cues can instruct cell responses in the context of development, disease, and regeneration. Harley co-authored the book ￿Cellular materials in nature and medicine￿ (Cambridge University Press, 2010) along with more than 75 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Harley has received funding from the NSF, NIH, American Cancer Society, the U.S. Army, and the AO Foundation. He recognized as a 2013 recipient of a NSF CAREER award, the 2014 Young Investigator Award from the Society for Biomaterials, and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2014). He co-founded UK-based Orthomimetics, Ltd. (acquired by TiGenix, Ltd.), currently performing Phase I clinical trials on a material to repair osteochondral defects in the knee. Professor Harley joined the department in 2008. He received his SB from Harvard University in 2000 and SM/ScD from MIT in 2002 and 2006. His post-doctoral studies were completed at the Joint Program in Transfusion Medicine at Boston Children￿s Hospital.

For more information

Research Statement

Scientists, engineers, and physicians have for decades worked to better understand the onset and progression of disease, prevent further damage after injury, and develop approaches to enhance healing. A critical bottleneck in these efforts is the complexity that arises from the non-uniform properties of the tissues and organs of our bodies. The tissue microenvironment can vary in time ￿ such as during development or with chronic disease ￿ or in space ￿ such as gradients in cell and matrix content found across tumors and musculoskeletal tissue insertional zones.

Such heterogeneities have inspired me to develop approaches to create unique biomaterials that are dynamic, spatially-patterned, and inhomogeneous over multiple length and time scales. To do this my lab is engineering biomaterials at the structural, mechanical, and biomolecular level. We have demonstrated: (1) multi-scale and bio-inspired composite design strategies to balance functional and biomechanical concerns; (2) techniques to create spatially-graded and overlapping patterns of cells, matrix, and biomolecules across biomaterials for regenerative repair of orthopedic insertions and to mimic the tumor microenvironment; (3) biomaterials to regulate temporal processes such as transient growth factor sequestration or the balance of paracrine vs. autocrine signals in an artificial stem cell niche.

These biomaterials provide unique tools to explore the impact of the tissue environment on the behavior of cells in the context of development, disease, and regeneration. They offer promise as materials to be implanted into the body to speed recovery after injury.

Research Interests

  • Extracellular Matrix Analogs, Cell and Tissue Engineering

Books Authored or Co-Authored (Original Editions)

  • L.J. Gibson, M.F. Ashby, B.A. Harley, "Cellular Materials in Nature and in Medicine," Cambridge University Press, (2010).

Books Edited or Co-Edited (Original Editions)

  • A. J. Wagoner Johnson and B.A.C. Harley (eds.), "Mechanobiology of Cell-Cell and Cell-Matrix Interactions," Springer, (2011).

Chapters in Books

  • D.W. Weisgerber, S.R. Caliari, B.A.C. Harley, "Synthesis of layered, graded bioscaffolds," in Structural interfaces and attachments in biology, S. Thomopoulos, G. Genin, V. Birman (eds.), Springer, 2012.
  • B.A.C. Harley and I.V Yannas, ￿In Vivo Synthesis of Tissues and Organs,￿ in Principles of Tissue Engineering, R. Lanza, R. Langer, and J.P. Vacanti (eds.), 4rd Edition, New York: Elsevier, 2013.
  • B.A. Harley and I.V. Yannas in J.G. Webster (ed.), "Skin: Tissue Engineering for Regeneration," in The Encyclopedia of Medical Devices and Instrumentation, 2nd Edition, New York: Wiley (2006).
  • B.A. Harley and I.V Yannas, "In vivo synthesis of tissues and organs," in Principles of Tissue Engineering, R. Lanza, R. Langer, and J.P. Vacanti (eds.), 3rd Edition, New York: Elsevier (2007).
  • S.R. Caliari and B.A. Harley, "Collagen-GAG Materials," in P. Ducheyne (ed.) Comprehensive Biomaterials, Kidlington (UK): Elsevier, (2011).

Selected Articles in Journals

  • K.R.C. Kinneberg, A. Nelson, M. Stender, A.H. Aziz, L.C. Mozdzen, B.A.C. Harley, S.J. Bryant, V.L. Ferguson, ￿Reinforcement of mono- and bi-layer poly(ethylene glycol) hydrogels with a fibrous collagen,￿ Ann. Biomed. Eng., 2015.
  • J.C. Pence, K.B.H. Clancy, B.A.C. Harley, ￿The induction of pro-angiogenic processes within a collagen scaffold via exogenous estradiol and endometrial epithelial cells,￿ Biotechnol. Bioeng., 2015.
  • J.C. Lee, C. Pereira, X. Ren, W. Huang, D.W. Weisgerber, D.T. Yamaguchi, B.A. Harley, T.A. Miller, ￿Optimizing collagen scaffolds for bone engineering: effects of crosslinking and mineral content on structural contraction and osteogenesis,￿ J. Craniofac. Surg., 2015.
  • R.A. Hortensius, J.R. Becraft, D.W. Pack, B.A.C. Harley, The effect of glycosaminoglycan content on polyethylenimine-based gene delivery within three-dimensional collagen-GAG scaffolds, Biomater. Sci., 3(4):645-54, 2015.
  • X. Ren, D. Bischoff, D.W. Weisgerber, M.S. Lewis, V. Tu, D.T. Yamaguchi, T.A. Miller, B.A.C. Harley, J.C. Lee, Osteogenesis on nanoparticulate mineralized collagen scaffolds via autogenous activation of the canonical BMP receptor signaling pathway, Biomaterials, 2015.
  • S.R. Caliari, W.K. Grier, D.W. Weisgerber, Z. Mahmassani, M.D. Boppart, B.A.C. Harley, Collagen scaffolds incorporating coincident patterns of instructive structural and biochemical cues for osteotendinous junction engineering, Adv. Healthc. Mater., 2015.
  • D.W. Weisgerber, S.R. Caliari, B.A.C. Harley, Selective addition of mineral into collagen scaffolds to enhance hMSC osteogenesis and matrix remodeling, Biomater. Sci., 3(3):533-42, 2015.
  • S. Pedron, E. Becka, B.A.C. Harley, Spatially-gradated hydrogel platform as a three-dimensional engineered tumor microenvironment, Adv. Mater., 27(9):1567-72, 2015.
  • S.R. Caliari, E.A. Gonnerman, W.K. Grier, D.W. Weisgerber, J.M. Banks, A.T. Alsop, J.-S. Lee, R.C. Bailey, B.A.C. Harley, Collagen scaffold arrays for combinatorial screening of biophysical and biochemical regulators of cell behavior, Adv. Healthc. Mater., 4(1):58-64, 2015.
  • W. Chen, K.D. Long, H. Yu, Y. Tan, J.S. Choi, B.A.C. Harley, B.T. Cunningham, Enhanced live cell imaging via photonic crystal enhanced fluorescence microscopy, Analyst, 139(22):5954-63, 2014.
  • J.M. Banks, L.C. Mozdzen, B.A.C. Harley*, R.C. Bailey*, The combined effects of matrix stiffness and growth factor immobilization on the bioactivity and differentiation capabilities of adipose-derived stem cells, Biomaterials, 35(32):8951-9, 2014. *co-corresponding authors.
  • A.T. Alsop, J.C. Pence, D.W. Weisgerber, B.A.C. Harley, R.C. Bailey, Photopatterning of VEGF within collagen-GAG scaffolds can induce a spatially confined response in human umbilical vein endothelial cells, Acta Biomater., 10(11):4715-22, 2014.
  • J.C. Pence, E.A. Gonnerman, R.C. Bailey, B.A.C. Harley, Strategies to balance covalent and non-covalent biomolecule attachment within collagen-GAG biomaterials, Biomater. Sci., 2(9):1296-1304, 2014.
  • S.R. Caliari, B.A.C. Harley, Collagen-GAG scaffold biophysical properties bias MSC lineage choice in the presence of mixed soluble signals, Tiss. Eng. A, 20(17-18):2463-72, 2014.
  • S.R. Caliari, B.A.C. Harley, Structural and biochemical modification of a collagen scaffold to selectively enhance MSC tenogenic, chondrogenic, and osteogenic differentiation, Adv. Healthc. Mater., 3(7):1086-96, 2014.
  • S.R. Caliari, L.C. Mozdzen, O.E. Armitage, M.L. Oyen, B.A.C. Harley, Periodically-perforated core-shell collagen biomaterials balance cell infiltration, bioactivity, and mechanical properties, J. Biomed. Mater. Res. Pt. A, 102(4):917-27, 2014.
  • B.P. Mahadik, T.D. Wheeler, L.J. Skertich, P.J.A. Kenis, B.A.C. Harley, Microfluidic generation of gradient hydrogels to modulate hematopoietic stem cell culture environment, Adv. Healthc. Mater., 3(3):449-458, 2014.
  • W. Chen, K.D. Long, M. Lu, V. Chaudhery, H. Yu, J.S. Choi, J. Polans, Y. Zhuo, B.A.C. Harley, B.T. Cunningham, Photonic crystal enhanced microscopy for imaging of live cell adhesion, Analyst, 138(20):5886-94, 2013.
  • D.W. Weisgerber, D.O. Kelkhoff, S.R. Caliari, B.A.C. Harley, The impact of discrete compartments of a multi-compartment collagen-GAG scaffold on overall construct biophysical properties, J. Mech. Behav. Biomed. Matls., 28:26-36, 2013.
  • R.A. Hortensius, B.A.C. Harley, The use of bioinspired alterations in the glycosaminoglycan content of collagen-GAG scaffolds to regulate cell activity, Biomaterials, 34(31):7645-52, 201
  • S. Pedron, E. Becka, B.A.C. Harley, Regulation of glioma cell phenotype in 3D matrices by hyaluronic acid, Biomaterials, 34(30):7408–17, 2013.
  • N.P. Gabrielson, A.V. Desai, B. Mahadik, M.-C. Hofmann, P.J.A. Kenis, B.A.C. Harley, Cell-laden hydrogels in integrated microfluidic devices for long-term cell culture and tubulogenesis assays, Small, 9(18):3076-81, 2013.
  • S. Pedron, B.A.C. Harley, The impact of the biophysical features of a 3D gelatin microenvironment on glioblastoma malignancy, J. Biomed. Mater Res. Pt. A, 101(12):3404-15, 2013.
  • S.-Y. Park, P. Wolfram, K. Canty, B.A. Harley, C. Nombela-Arrieta, G. Pivarnik, J. Manis, H.E. Beggs, L.E. Silberstein, Focal adhesion kinase regulates the localization and retention of pro-B Cells in bone marrow microenvironments, J. Immunol., 190(3):1094-102, 2013.
  • C. Nombela-Arrieta, G. Pivarnik, B. Winkel, K.J. Canty, B.A.C. Harley, J.E. Mahoney, J. Lu, A. Protopopov, L.E. Silberstein, Quantitative imaging of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell localization and hypoxic status in the bone marrow microenvironment, Nat. Cell Biol., 15(5):533-543, 2013.
  • S.R. Caliari, B.A.C. Harley, Composite growth factor supplementation strategies to enhance tenocyte bioactivity in aligned collagen-GAG scaffolds, Tiss. Eng. A, 19(9-10):1100-12, 2013.
  • E.A. Gonnerman, D.O. Kelkhoff, L.M. McGregor, B.A.C Harley, The promotion of HL-1 cardiomyocyte beating using anisotropic collagen-GAG scaffolds, Biomaterials, 33(34):8812-21, 2012.
  • J.F. Frisz, J.S. Choi, R.L. Wilson, B.A.C. Harley, M.L. Kraft, Identifying differentiation stage of individual primary hematopoietic cells from mouse bone marrow by multivariate analysis of TOF-secondary ion mass spectrometry data, Anal. Chem., 84(10):4307-13, 2012.
  • J.S. Choi, B.A. Harley, The combined influence of substrate elasticity and ligand density on the viability and biophysical properties of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, Biomaterials, 33(18):4460-4468, 2012.
  • S.R. Caliari, D.W. Weisgerber, M.A. Ramirez, D.O. Kelkhoff, B.A.C. Harley, The influence of collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffold relative density and microstructural anisotropy on tenocyte bioactivity and transcriptomic stability, J. Mech. Behav. Biomed. Matls., 11:27-40, 2012.
  • S.R. Caliari, M. Ramirez, B.A.C. Harley, The development of collagen-GAG scaffold-membrane composites for tendon tissue engineering, Biomaterials, 32(34):8990-8998, 2011.
  • S.R. Caliari, B.A.C. Harley, The effect of anisotropic collagen-GAG scaffolds and growth factor supplementation on tendon cell recruitment, alignment, and metabolic activity, Biomaterials, 32(23):5330-40, 2011.
  • T. Martin, S.R. Caliari, P. Williford, B.A. Harley*, R.C. Bailey*, The generation of biomolecular patterns in highly porous collagen-GAG scaffolds using direct photolithography, Biomaterials, 32(16):3949-57, 2011. *Co-corresponding authors
  • B.A. Harley, A.K. Lynn, Z. Wissner-Gross, W. Bonfield, I.V. Yannas, L.J. Gibson, Design of a multiphase osteochondral scaffold III: Fabrication of layered scaffolds with continuous interfaces, J. Biomed. Mater. Res. Part A, 92(3):1078-93, 2010.
  • B.A. Harley, A.K. Lynn, Z. Wissner-Gross, W. Bonfield, I.V. Yannas, L.J. Gibson, Design of a multiphase osteochondral scaffold II: Fabrication of a mineralized collagen-GAG scaffold, J. Biomed. Mater. Res. Part A, 92(3):1066-77, 2010.
  • A.K. Lynn, S.M. Best, R.E. Cameron, B.A. Harley, I.V. Yannas, L.J. Gibson, W. Bonfield, Design of a multiphase osteochondral scaffold I: Control of chemical composition, J. Biomed. Mater. Res. Part A, 92(3):1057-65, 2010.
  • B.A. Harley, H.-D. Kim, M.H. Zaman, I.V. Yannas, D.A. Lauffenburger, L.J. Gibson, Micro-architecture of three-dimensional scaffolds influences cell migration behavior via junction interactions, Biophys. J., 95(8):4013-24, 2008.
  • Y. Le, B. Zhu, B. Harley, S.-Y. Park, J.P. Manis, H.R. Luo, A. Yoshimura, L. Hennighausen, L.E. Silberstein, SOCS3 protein developmentally regulates the chemokine receptor CXCR4-FAK signaling pathway during B lymphopoiesis, Immunity, 27(5):811-823, 2007.
  • B.A. Harley, J.H. Leung, E. Silva, L.J. Gibson, Mechanical characterization of collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffolds, Acta Biomater., 3(4):463-474, 2007.
  • F.J. OBrien, B.A. Harley, I.V. Yannas, L.J. Gibson, The effect of pore size and structure on cell adhesion in collagen-GAG scaffolds, Biomaterials, 26(4):433-441, 2005.


  • I.C. Gunsalus Scholar, University of Illinois, 2015 - 2016.
  • University of Illinois Campus Distinguished Promotion Award, 2015.
  • Everitt Award for Teaching Excellence, University of Illinois College of Engineering, 2014.
  • NSF CAREER award 2013 - 2018
  • President￿s Award, Research (Advocate of the Year); American Cancer Society of Illinois 2011
  • Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising, College of Engineering, University of Illinois 2011
  • University of Illinois, Teachers Ranked as Excellent 2009 - present
  • Kirschstein National Research Service Award T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH 2006-2008
  • John C. and Elizabeth J. Chato Award for Excellence in Bioengineering, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, MIT, 2006.
  • Fellowship, MIT-Whitaker Health Science Fund 2003-2005
  • Fellowship, Dupont/MIT Alliance 2000-2001