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Keywords:

  • micro/nanoengineering;
  • biomaterials;
  • mechanobiology;
  • cell mechanics;
  • cell-material interactions

The rapid development of micro/nanoengineered functional biomaterials in the last two decades has empowered materials scientists and bioengineers to precisely control different aspects of the in vitro cell microenvironment. Following a philosophy of reductionism, many studies using synthetic functional biomaterials have revealed instructive roles of individual extracellular biophysical and biochemical cues in regulating cellular behaviors. Development of integrated micro/nanoengineered functional biomaterials to study complex and emergent biological phenomena has also thrived rapidly in recent years, revealing adaptive and integrated cellular behaviors closely relevant to human physiological and pathological conditions. Working at the interface between materials science and engineering, biology, and medicine, we are now at the beginning of a great exploration using micro/nanoengineered functional biomaterials for both fundamental biology study and clinical and biomedical applications such as regenerative medicine and drug screening. In this review, an overview of state of the art micro/nanoengineered functional biomaterials that can control precisely individual aspects of cell-microenvironment interactions is presented and they are highlighted them as well-controlled platforms for mechanistic studies of mechano-sensitive and -responsive cellular behaviors and integrative biology research. The recent exciting trend where micro/nanoengineered biomaterials are integrated into miniaturized biological and biomimetic systems for dynamic multiparametric microenvironmental control of emergent and integrated cellular behaviors is also discussed. The impact of integrated micro/nanoengineered functional biomaterials for future in vitro studies of regenerative medicine, cell biology, as well as human development and disease models are discussed.