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Tara L. Deans

Phone: 801-585-7859
Office: BPRB 108B

Tara L. Deans

Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor
BS Biology, Washington State University
PhD Biomedical Engineering, Boston University
Postdoc Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University


Synthetic Biology, Tissue Engineering, Materials Science, Regenerative Medicine

Current Research

My research program utilizes molecular biology, genetic engineering, and mathematical modeling to develop functional platforms of synthetic biology tailored for applications in stem cell biology, regenerative medicine, drug delivery, cell-based therapeutics, and disease monitoring. My lab also interfaces synthetic biology and biomaterials to engineer bioinspired dynamic microenvironments to enhance stem cell proliferation in vitro.

Based upon the need for improved tools to enhance the production of platelets and red blood cells in vitro to be used for therapeutic applications, our lab has three synergistic focus groups to study hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) cell fate: (1) Build novel genetic tools to control the contributions of intrinsic cues on HSC proliferation and differentiation (synthetic biology), (2) Engineer genetically interactive biomaterials to control the extrinsic cues on HSC proliferation and differentiation (coupling synthetic biology with biomaterials), and (3) Engineering cells to deliver therapeutic biomolecules to sites of injury and/or disease (synthetic biology).

Selected Publications

Fitzgerald M, Gibbs C, Shimpi AA, Deans TL, Adoption of the Q Transcriptional System for Regulating Gene Expression in Stem Cells. ACS Synth Biol 2017 Aug 14;:

Deans TL, Grainger DW, Fussenegger M, Synthetic Biology: Innovative approaches for pharmaceutics and drug delivery. Adv Drug Deliv Rev 2016 Oct 1;105(Pt A):1-2

MacDonald IC, Deans TL, Tools and applications in synthetic biology. Adv Drug Deliv Rev 2016 Oct 1;105(Pt A):20-34

Lam A, Deans TL, A noisy tug of war: the battle between transcript production and degradation in the liver. Dev Cell 2015 Apr 6;33(1):3-4

Deans TL, Singh A, Gibson M, Elisseeff JH, Regulating synthetic gene networks in 3D materials. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012 Sep 18;109(38):15217-22

Deans TL, Elisseeff JH, The life of a cell: probing the complex relationships with the world. Cell Stem Cell 2010 Jun 4;6(6):499-501

Deans TL, Elisseeff JH, Stem cells in musculoskeletal engineered tissue. Curr Opin Biotechnol 2009 Oct;20(5):537-44

Deans TL, Cantor CR, Collins JJ, A tunable genetic switch based on RNAi and repressor proteins for regulating gene expression in mammalian cells. Cell 2007 Jul 27;130(2):363-72