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Samuel Herberg, PhD

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ECM hydrogels for outflow tissue modeling

The research in Dr. Herberg’s laboratory is centered around developing advanced bioengineered models of key tissues involved in outflow homeostasis, namely the trabecular meshwork and its interface with the Schlemm’s canal. We specifically focus on recapitulating the cellular, molecular, and biomechanical properties of the native tissues to investigate the involvement of mechanoregulatory pathways in progressive glaucomatous tissue dysfunction.

We use 3-dimensional bioengineered polymer hydrogels made from extracellular matrix proteins found in the native tissue, and primary human trabecular meshwork and Schlemm’s canal cells. These “tissue-mimetic” hydrogels offer two key advantages compared to most other current in vitro model systems: 1) they better replicate the dynamic nature of the native outflow tissue microenvironment governed by complex cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions, and 2) their composition and mechanical properties can be dynamically tuned to facilitate accurate modeling of cellular and biomechanical behaviors under controlled conditions. 

The bioengineered hydrogels developed in our laboratory provide a major advancement in ocular disease modeling. Our research has the potential to fill critical gaps and potentially transform our understanding of trabecular meshwork and Schlemm’s canal cell pathobiology in glaucoma, and will have significant implications for vision health by informing the search for novel therapeutic approaches with focus on biomechanics to permanently restore outflow function.


Contact: Dr. Samuel Herberg, PhD Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Cell Biology & Developmental Biology, and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
Location: 4609 Institute For Human Performance
Phone: (315) 464-7773
Email: herbergs@upstate.edu

Dr. Herberg received his B.S. in Biotechnology Engineering from the University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Germany, and his Ph.D. in Cellular Biology from Augusta University. He trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, for which he received an Individual National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health, and Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine. Dr. Herberg is currently funded through a Career Development Award from Research to Prevent Blindness and a Syracuse University BioInspired Institute Seed Grant. He collaborates with researchers at Duke University, the University of Houston, Augusta University, the University of California - Los Angeles, and Syracuse University.

Dr. Herberg’s work has been published in Experimental Eye Research, Science Advances, Science Translational Medicine, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Small, Stem Cells Translational Medicine, and Tissue Engineering Part A, among others. He is a member of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, the International Society for Eye Research, the Trabecular Meshwork Study Club, and the Biomedical Engineering Society. Dr. Herberg is a regular referee for numerous journals including Experimental Eye Research, Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, Current Eye Research, Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology, and Scientific Reports. He has been invited to critique conference abstracts for the Biomedical Engineering Society and the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society, and applications for grants from the Health Research Board in Ireland.

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