Developing 3D biomaterials for tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, mechanobiology, and precision medicine

​Understanding the biophysical mechanisms underlying regenerative wound healing by defined natural and synthetic biomaterials. We have established a novel snake venom-controlled well-defined 3D fibrin network platform with tuneable and reproducible biophysical properties for regenerative wound healing studies. The biophysical cues of the fibrin networks including architecture, mechanical properties, degradation, and ligand density can be precisely controlled and tuned. Read more (Nat Comm. 2023 Feb 23;14(1):1029).

By utilizing this defined fibrin system with decoupled structural and mechanical properties, we studied and explained how mechanical cues of the 3D fibrin matrix influence in vitro fibroblast differentiation. The mechanisms underlying architecture-regulated fibroblast differentiation will further develop the current theory on fibroblast differentiation in 3D matrices and provide new biophysical strategies for regulating fibroblast differentiation in order to reduce scar formation during wound healing, which has profound translational significance in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Dr Zhao WANG (Jeff) is a Postdoc research fellow in Prof Alan Rowan's group at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), The University of Queensland (UQ). His work focuses on developing naturally derived polymers or biomaterials for different applications including tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, mechanobiology, cancer precision medicine, etc. Through his PhD studies, he has designed and developed a novel snake venom-controlled defined fibrin hydrogel system, which can be utilised in multiple translational applications (Nat Comm. 2023 Feb 23;14(1):1029).   

Jeff/Zhao has a medical educational background in general dentistry (BDSc) and dental surgery (MDS). He is a registered dentist in China. Meanwhile, he has a passion for science. During his undergraduate and master's degrees, his research focused on genetics and therapeutics in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC) under the supervision of Prof Yunong Wu in Jiangsu Province Stomatology Hospital, China.

Now as an early career scientist, his interests include biomaterials design and synthesis in tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, cancer mechanobiology, and precision medicine.


Prof Elliot Gilbert, Dr Jitendra Mata, Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Australia.​

A/Prof Mark Fear and Prof Fiona Wood, University of Western and Fiona Wood Foundation, Australia.


Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) grant No. ZIAI168641 (2023).

Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) grant No. 8534 (2020).

Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship (2019-2023).

Key Publications

Wang, Z., Lauko, J., Kijas, A.W. et al. Snake venom-defined fibrin architecture dictates fibroblast survival and differentiation. Nat Commun 14, 1029 (2023).

Wang, Z., Chen, J., Zhang, W., Zheng, Y., Wang, Z., Liu, L., ... & Wu, Y. (2016). Axon guidance molecule semaphorin3A is a novel tumor suppressor in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Oncotarget, 7(5), 6048.

Zheng, Y., Wang, Z., Xiong, X., Zhong, Y., Zhang, W., Dong, Y., ... & Gu, W. (2018). Membrane‐tethered Notch1 exhibits oncogenic property via activation of EGFR–PI3K–AKT pathway in oral squamous cell carcinoma. Journal of cellular physiology.

Zheng, Y., Wang, Z., Ding, X., Zhang, W., Li, G., Liu, L., ... & Song, X. (2018). A novel Notch1 missense mutation (C1133Y) in the Abruptex domain exhibits enhanced proliferation and invasion in oral squamous cell carcinoma. Cancer cell international, 18(1), 6.

Zheng, Y., Wang, Z., Ding, X., Dong, Y., Zhang, W., Zhang, W., ... & Song, X. (2018). Combined Erlotinib and PF‐03084014 treatment contributes to synthetic lethality in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Cell proliferation, 51(3), e12424.

Yegappan, R., Lauko, J., Wang, Z., Lavin, M. F., Kijas, A. W., Rowan, A. E., Snake Venom Hydrogels as a Rapid Hemostatic Agent for Uncontrolled Bleeding. Adv. Healthcare Mater. 2022, 11, 2200574.