My research has focused on understanding molecular interactions between cells and their extracellular environment.
Beginning in the early 1970’s as a postdoctoral fellow with Paul Srere, my goal was to understand basic mechanisms of cell adhesion. Subsequent research in my own laboratory contributed to the discovery of the adhesion protein fibronectin. We characterized the role of material surface properties in determining fibronectin function and established the potential importance of fibronectin in tissue engineering.
Later, the focus of my laboratory expanded to included studies on cell adhesion in the 3-dimensional environment. For this work, we used native 3D collagen matrices to learn about cell physiology and mechanics in relationship to tissue organization.
Much of our work concerned fibronectin and tissue organization in wound repair. In the late 1980's, we initiated clinical trials with fibronectin to promote human wound healing. As a result of that research, we popularized the use of wound fluid to analyze the fluid phase of the human wound environment, and we discovered that increased levels of proteinases and proteolytic degradation of fibronectin occurred in chronic human wounds.
From 1973 to 2014, my laboratory was funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health including a MERIT award from 1999-2008.