Organizers: Samhita P. Banavar, Andrej Košmrlj, Celeste Nelson, and Jared Toettcher
Organoids are three-dimensional, multicellular tissues that self-assemble in culture from stem or progenitor cells. Organoids have the potential to model embryonic tissue development, regeneration, and disease, and for use in translational applications, such as personalized therapy or biobanking. Because of this great potential, synthetic biologists and materials scientists have devised new approaches to promote and support stem cell differentiation and organoid formation. However, since the shapes and cellular compositions of organoids emerge from a self-organization process, the resulting organoids are highly heterogeneous, in contrast to the robust stereotypy observed in tissues in vivo. This heterogeneity, and the desire to direct reproducible homogeneous assembly of organoids, has attracted interest and expertise from the biophysics and statistical mechanics communities. The goal of this workshop is to bring together experimentalists and theorists to share their approaches for promoting reproducible differentiation and self-assembly and to highlight new challenges for the field. In the past two years, the National Science Foundation has invested heavily in this area through their Reproducible Cells and Organoids via Directed-Differentiation Encoding (RECODE) funding mechanism, so the time is ripe to catalyze interactions amongst the broader community. Princeton is a hub of this activity, with strong research programs in both theoretical and experimental work in morphogenesis and developmental biology, and is a natural place to host this exciting meeting.