Daniel Harrington PhD - -3 UTHealth School of Dentistry
Post-Doc, Pediatric Urology | Northwestern University / Lurie Children's Hospital
PhD, Materials Science & Engineering | Northwestern University
BS, Materials Science & Engineering | Northwestern University
Dr. Harrington’s training is as a materials engineer, and his research addresses the molecular design, synthesis and evaluation of polymeric and supramolecular biomaterials in a variety of tissue engineering applications. His laboratory employs nanoscale features to promote organized epitope display and influence cell phenotype in tissue-engineering matrices. Through a background of materials synthesis, characterization (chemical, mechanical, biological), and implementation in 3-D cell culture, his laboratory employs an interdisciplinary approach to target complex structures and systems with clinical relevance. In his early career, he also worked in industry in basic materials science R&D groups, and he maintains multiple industry collaborations. He has participated in the TMCx Innovation accelerator program, translating his academic laboratory discoveries to clinical applications.
Dr. Harrington is a faculty member of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center / UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (GSBS) at Houston and maintains an appointment as adjunct assistant professor of biosciences at Rice University. He is a senior scientist in the Houston Center for Biomaterials and Biomimetics (HCBB) and a member of the UTSD Center for Craniofacial Research. He maintains multiple collaborations across the Texas Medical Center, in particular with Dr. Cindy Farach-Carson at UTSD. He has directed the research efforts of more than 30 undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, medical residents, and technicians, and additionally co-advised a similar number through collaborations.
Active research projects in the lab follow these themes:
3-D Hydrogel Models of Epithelial Cancers
Our research uses ECM-derived hyaluronan polymers as substrates that enable the study of multiple cancers in 3-D. These offer multiple advantages over traditional 2-D tissue culture, in that they enable studies of multicellular interactions, effects of morphology and diffusion on phenotype, and ordered arrangement of multiple cell types (e.g. cancer, stroma, endothelium, and immune cell populations). By modifying the matrix composition, we can induce permissive/non-permissive substrates for these studies. Recent work includes the use of these substrates for the ex vivo culture of patient-derived xenografts (PDXs), and for adapting facile 3-D culture to high-throughput and high-content screening (HTS/HCS) for cancer drug targets.
Salivary Gland Tissue Engineering
Radiotherapy-induced xerostomia is a significant side effect for patients with head-and-neck cancers. Although effective in treating these cancers, RT commonly results in the death of salivary acinar cells, with subsequent impacts on dental hygiene and overall quality of life due to loss of salivary flow. Our team is working to regenerate salivary structure and function by culturing human salivary-derived stem/progenitor cells in hydrogel matrices to promote their assembly into branched structures that recapitulate the glands’ functions.