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A major challenge of tissue engineering is to build three-dimensional (3D) in vitro models for studying tissue physiology and pathology. 3D in vitro models are the bridge between conventional two-dimensional (2D) tissue culture, which does not capture the complexity of human tissue, and animal models, which are costly, time consuming and raise ethical concerns.


One area in which 3D models are underrepresented but where they can have an immediate impact is the development of platforms for toxicology screening. Such  models have the potential to address the growing concerns about drug failures in clinical trials due to lack of efficacy or unexpected side effects.  Further, they can play a role in preventive medicine by answering the urgent need for efficient platforms enabling the screening of the plethora of environmental hazards linked to incidences of diseases such as cancer.


The goal of our lab is to engineer and characterize synthetic biomaterials, in order to provide a complete toolbox for building 3D in vitro models as platforms for toxicology screening and for the study of disease progression. Our current focus is on models of solid tumors as well as models to study neurotoxicity, a side effect associated with chemotherapy. In addition, we actively seek to apply our work towards other disease systems and congruous research areas such as biosensors and drug delivery.

Dr. Silviya P. Zustiak, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Saint Louis University.

3507 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63103. Phone: (314) 977-8331. E-mail: szustiak@slu.edu


Biomedical Engineering Building

3507 Lindell Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63103

Room 2024

Bldg 6 on University map


Phone: (314) 977-8331

E-mail: szustiak@slu.edu

Zustiak Soft Tissue Engineering Laboratory

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