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Dr Umber Cheema
Fax: +44 208 954 8560
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Department of Ortho and MSK Science
  • Div of Surgery & Interventional Sci
  • Faculty of Medical Sciences

Dr. Cheema completed her PhD in tissue engineering of skeletal muscle at UCL in 2004. She was then appointed as a post doctoral research assistant on a BBSRC funded project on tissue bioreactor science. During this time she worked in collaboration with medical physicists, materials scientists and mathematical modellers. Her work focused on understanding diffusion parameters in collagen based scaffolds for successful tissue engineering. Following this, Dr. Cheema was awarded a grant by the Japanese government to work with Professor Teruo Okano on layer tissue engineering strategies. 

Dr. Cheema was a BBSRC David Phillips fellow from 2008-2014, and her research was based on  understanding cell behaviour and signalling  in 3D collagen scaffolds. This work has resulted in close collaboration with industrial partners. These include Oxford Optronix, on real-time O2 monitoring in 3D tissue engineered scaffolds and Sartorius (formerly TAP biosystems), on development of biomimetic 3D tumour models.

 Dr. Cheema was promoted to senior lecturer in tissue engineering in 2015. She is the Graduate Tutor (Research) for the Division of Surgery and Interventional Science.

Research Summary

Dr. Cheema's research interests include engineering vascular networks in 3D engineered tissues to further understand the role native matrix density and composition have on this biological process. 

Her research also focuses on controlling elements of collagen architecture to build biomimetic tissues in vitro. In particular, by studying mechanisms which control collagen fibril alignment, diameter and density. In addition to these elements work has also involved the introduction of architectural features, in particular channels to provide the basis of vascular networks.

Recent research projects include the development of a reproducible 3D in vitro model of solid tumour growth. Here the spatial architecture of a tumour and its surrounding stroma has been reproduced in vitro, with evidence of tumour invasion into surrounding 'normal' tissue. Engineered tumouroids include epithelial cancers and sarcoma's. 

Her collaborative work includes engineering basic tissue models which are subjected to decompression regimes to mimic the 'bends' in diving. Experimental data has been modelled to further our understanding of how bubbles nucleate, grow and coalesce in tissues, during decompression. 

Teaching Summary

Dr Cheema lectures on the iBSc in Orthopaedic Science and the MSc in Musculoskeletal Science on the following topics: Collagen, Tissue engineering strategies, Vascularisation and Neural integration of tissue engineered scaffolds and Skeletal muscle development.

She is the graduate tutor (research) within the Division of Surgery and Interventional Sciences at UCL.

Academic Background
2005 PhD Doctor of Philosophy – Tissue Engineering University College London
1999 BSc Hons Bachelor of Science – Molecular Biology Queen Mary College, University of London
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