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Thomas H. Barker

Associate Professor, Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering

Thomas Barker

Thomas Barker, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, joined the Department in 2006 after completing two Post-Doctoral Fellowships in Seattle, WA and Lausanne, Switzerland. His goal is clear and his approach, holistic: Barker and his lab hope to ultimately develop biomaterials that induce the regeneration of complex tissues and organ systems. His preferred approach involves developing a fundamental knowledge base of the processes and materials involved and then applying those concepts towards engineering novel bio-inspired solutions.

The focus of Barker's lab involves the "intersection of mechanobiology, traditional cell and molecular biology and the extracellular matrix." The intricacies and interdependence of these three distinct concepts is vital to formulating specific solutions for regenerative medicine. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is a complex composite material comprised of protein polymers, proteogylcans and bioactive factors that constantly interact with the cells it surrounds. These interactions are biochemical as well as mechanical in nature. This means that the proteins in the ECM and receptors on cells are involved in relaying cascades of chemical signals as well as producing physical responses to the mechanical forces that are inflicted upon them.

Research Areas of Interest:

  • Cell-Extracellular Matrix (ECM) interactions
  • ECM-directed cell differentiation in regeneration and pathogenesis
  • Cell and molecular mechanobiology
  • ECM-inspired biomaterials for regenerative medicine applications


Awards and Distinctions: 
  • 2012, Young Investigator Award, American Society for Matrix Biology
  • 2008, Walter A. Rosenblith New Investigator Award, Health Effects Inst.
  • 2004, Ruth L. Kirchstein Postdoctoral Fellow, NIGMS
  • 2002, National NASA Space Fellow, Division of Physical and Biological Sciences, NASA HQ
  • 2001, Keystone Symposia (D3) Cell Adhesion and Migration Outstanding Research Award
  • Director, Matrix Biology and Engineering Lab
  • Associate Director, Center for Pediatric Nanomedicine
  • Faculty, the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Petit Faculty Fellow, Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering & Bioscience
  • Affiliate Faculty, Center for Drug Design and Deliverability
  • Affiliate Faculty, Center for Advanced Bioengineering for Soldier Survivability


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University of Alabama, Birmingham, 2003
University of Alabama, Birmingham, 2003
Oglethorpe University, 1995