Rebecca Wells


Yale University, B.S.,1983
Johns Hopkins University, M.D., 1987
Post-Doctoral Training: Brigham and Women's Hospital/Harvard Medical School (with Matthias Hediger) and the Whitehead Institute (with Harvey Lodish)




Current Lab Members


Lucas Smith, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow

University of Washington, B.S.E. in Bioengineering, 2003
University of California - San Diego, Ph.D. in Bioengineering, 2011

Biomechanics, collagen organization, and fibrosis

My goal is to uncover the mechanism leading to fibrosis, particularly the organization of collagen in bridging fibrosis of the liver. I am using a variety of in vivo, in situ, and in vitro techniques to examine how cells mechanically communicate over long distances and reorganize their matrix. We are further examining how properties of the matrix influence its ability to transmit force and undergo reorganization. The long term goal is to provide new therapeutic targets for treating liver fibrosis based on the matrix organization.


Li-Kang Chin, Ph.D.

University of Pennsylvania, B.S.E. In Bioengineering, 2001
Case Western Reserve University, M.S. in Biomedical Engineering, 2007
Case Western Reserve University, Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, 2011
Postdoc with Paul Janmey, Institute for Medicine and Engineering and Department of Physiology, University of Pennsylvania

Soft tissue rheology, HCC, tissue engineering, hyaluronan, adipocyte biology, ECM, mechanotransduction

I am the technical director of the PSOC@Penn Cell and Tissue Core. The Core provides biological materials (cells, tissues, and animal models) to the labs of the PSOC. In addition to maintaining established cell lines, we receive human liver samples from HUP and VA and process the tissues for primary cell isolation, histology, decellularization, and rtPCR. In addition, I am interested in biochemical analysis of the liver, 3D architecture, and the role of lipids and hyaluronan in the mechanosensing ability of hepatocytes in fatty liver. 


Amy Lee
M.S.E Candidate

University of Pennsylvania, B.S.E. in Bioengineering, 2015
University of Pennsylvania, M.S.E in Bioengineering, 2017 (expected)

My project examines the relationship between increasing cellular fibronectin concentrations and the collagenous fibrous bridging. Using the hanging droplet method to create spheroids and microfabrication techniques to form utugs, I hope to elucidate this relationship.


Nicolette Johnson
M.D./Ph.D. Candidate

University of Iowa, B.S.E in Biomedical Engineering, 2014
University of Pennsylvania, M.D. Ph.D., 2023 (expected)

I am interested in characterizing the properties of the biliary glycocalyx, including its structure and developmental time course.


Gi Yun Lee
Undergraduate Student

University of Pennsylvania, B.S.E. in Bioengineering, 2016 (expected)
University of Pennsylvania, B.S. in Finance, 2016 (expected)
University of Pennsylvania, M.S.E. in Bioengineering, 2017 (expected)

Current Project: 
I am interested in investigating liver cell mechanotransduction and proliferation in a cirrhotic liver using polyacrylamide gels, hyaluronic acid gels, and cell-deposited matrices.


Hani Naga
Undergraduate Student

University of Pennsylvania, B.S. in Biological Basis of Behavior, 2017 (expected)

Current Project:
My project focuses on investigating the characteristics of extra-hepatic bile ducts (EHBDs).  The EHBD is not very well characterized in the literature despite being the focal point of a handful of debilitating diseases including biliary atresia and primary sclerosing cholangitis.



Orith Waisbourd-Zinman, M.D.

Former postdoctoral fellow, now a close lab collaborator setting up her own lab at the Sackler Children's Hospital/Tel Aviv University!




Alyssa Kreigermeier, M.D.
CHOP Fellow in Gastroenterology/Hepatology/Nutrition



Bridget Sackey
Ph.D. Candidate



Dongning Chen



Gauri Khandekar, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow


University of Mumbai, M.Sc. in Biotechnology, 2007

University of North Texas, Ph.D. in Molecular Biology, 2013

UC Davis, Postdoctoral Scholar

Project:  I will be looking at the role of small leucine-rich proteoglycans, mainly lumican and fibromodulin, in collagen organization and at their role in liver fibrosis using in vitro and in vivo models.

Lab Alumni

Shannon Tsai
Rocky Giwa
Abby Loneker

Jude Han