Founder Stories


Founded by John O’Neill, MS ‘11 SEAS, ‘17 GSAS, Matri­-Tek is a life sciences research supply company specialized in the production of tissue­-specific biomaterials for biomedical research. Matri­-Tek was spun out of the stem cell research laboratory of Dr. Gordana Vunjak­Novakovic, PhD, Mikati Foundation Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Columbia University, to address growing demands from collaborators and other biomedical researchers for tissue­-specific biomaterials.

When biomedical researchers use cells, they grow them outside the body in a petri dish under conditions that attempt to recreate the natural environment of the cells in the body. However, the attempts are rarely perfect recreations. The petri dish surface is not a natural environment, and cells know it. As a result of the unnatural environment, cells don’t grow or function naturally like they would in the body – and that severely limits the ability to develop safe and effective drugs, to study diseases like heart disease and cancer, and to regenerate injured organs like brain and heart after a stroke or heart attack.

To solve this problem, Matri­-Tek developed a series of organic biomaterials that are specific to 25 different tissue types – nearly all of the major tissue types found in the body. Starting from natural tissues (which are made up of cells and a supportive matrix – the organizational structure cells are attached to in natural tissues), we gently remove all of the original, native cells to obtain pure matrix from each tissue. Each matrix is then processed into tissue­-specific biomaterials – ideal natural cell environments – for use in pharmaceutical drug discovery and development, stem cell and cancer research, tissue engineering, organ regeneration, and more.

To learn more about how Matri-­Tek’s tissue­-specific biomaterials are transforming cell culture in life sciences and biomedical research, visit their website.

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