Interview | Guoping Chen

Prof. Dr. Guoping Chen is Group Leader of Research Center for Functional Materials, National Institute for Materials Science and Professor of Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Tsukuba. His research interests include tissue engineering, polymeric scaffolds, biomimetic biomaterials and surface modification. He has authored more than 280 publications and given more than 100 plenary, keynote and invited lectures at conferences. He is Associate Editor of Journal of Materials Chemistry B, Senior Editorial Board Member of Exploration, Editorial Boards of Journal of Bioactive and Compatible Polymers, Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, Regenerative Biomaterials, Biomedical Materials and Bioactive Materials, and Advisory Board of Biomaterials Science. He has been selected Fellow of The Royal Society of Chemistry in 2015, Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2017 and Fellow of International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering in 2020.

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Q: Could you briefly introduce your research?

A: My research focuses on the design and preparation of functional biomaterials and scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. Polymeric porous scaffolds and their composites with functional nanoparticles, micro-patterned surfaces and biomimetic matrices are prepared and used for controlling cell functions and guiding new tissue regeneration.

Q: What kind of impact would you expect from your research work on biomaterials? How do you envision the future of biomaterials in medical applications?

A: My research may provide some fundamental information to elucidate the interaction between cells and their microenvironments and how the property of biomaterials affects cell functions, in particular, the differentiation of stem cells. The scaffolds may also be useful for regeneration of large and complex tissues and organs.

Q: What is the breakthrough in regenerative medicine in recent years? How do these advances affect the development of health sciences?

A: The breakthrough in regenerative medicine in recent years should be cell reprogramming and controlling differentiation of stem cells. The achievements may contribute to the treatment of intractable diseases and aging problem.

Q: What is your most exciting moment as a scientist?

A: The most exciting moment comes when I find a new phenomenon or prepare some new functional biomaterials.

Q: Who do you think has the greatest impact on your career? What motivates you all the time?

A: The greatest impact on my career is my parents. They always encouraged me to go ahead without fearing anything. They educated me to be a nice human being since my childhood.

Q: What are your expectations for Exploration to further prompt the development of related topics?

A: Exploration should attract more seminal research in each field. Impact factor is of course very important. Publication of innovative and seminal researches should give the journal a big impact in the future.

Q: Which kind of the manuscript would interest you most?

A: I am more interested in original research papers.

Q: How do you balance between work and life? What is your hobby?

A: If I have time, I like cooking because cooking is similar to doing chemical experiments. My hobby is jogging. I jog almost every day. During jogging, I can think some new ideas of my research.

Q: When do you enjoy your work most? Are there any interesting moments you can share with us?

A: I like to challenge myself to new things. I feel excited when I have an idea for new experiments or new biomaterials.

I have an experience on how to learn a lesson from failure many years ago. I may share it with young scientists. At that time, I immersed poly(lactide-co-glycolide) foam in simulated body fluid overnight because I wanted to deposit hydroxyapatite on the polymer foam to prepare scaffolds for bone tissue engineering. Unfortunately, the polymers were completely dissolved in the solution although the pH of the solution was 7.4. The experiment failed. The reason is the accelerated degradation of poly(lactide-co-glycolide) foam in the solution. Later, I used the failure experience to design a condition to prepare autologous extracellular matrix scaffolds. The polymer foam was used as a template for deposition of autologous extracellular matrix during cell culture. Then, the polymer foam was selectively removed to leave the autologous extracellular matrix. Without the failure, I might have not thought to prepare the autologous extracellular matrix scaffolds.

Q: What do you think is the most important characteristics for a researcher? Could you give some advice for young researchers?

A: I think passion, imagination and diligence are very important for researchers. I like the quotation “If you can dream it, you can do it”. It is what I want to share with young researchers.


陈国平,日本国立材料研究所功能材料研究中心组长,筑波大学材料科学与工程学院教授。研究领域主要包括组织工程学、聚合物支架、仿生生物材料和表面修饰。陈国平教授在国际重要学术期刊上发表论文280多篇,受邀参加国际学术会议报告100多场。陈国平教授现任Journal of Materials Chemistry B期刊副主编,Exploration高级编委会成员,Journal of Bioactive and Compatible PolymersJournal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative MedicineRegenerative BiomaterialsBiomedical Materials and Bioactive Materials等期刊编委,以及Biomaterials Science期刊顾问团成员。2015年被选为英国皇家化学会Fellow,2017年被选为美国医学和生物工程院Fellow,2020年被授予国际生物材料科学与工程学会联合会Fellow。


Q: 您能否简单介绍一下课题组的工作?

A: 我的课题组主要从事功能生物材料和再生医学支架材料领域的基础和应用方面研究。设计和研制高分子多孔材料及其与功能纳米粒子的复合材料;微图案表面和仿生材料;调控细胞功能,实现人体创伤组织的修复和再生。

Q: 您的研究团队对生物材料的研究预期会产生什么样的影响?您对生物材料在医学应用中的未来有何展望?

A: 我的研究为阐明细胞与其微环境之间的相互作用,以及生物材料的特性如何影响细胞功能,特别是干细胞的分化提供基础信息。研究开发的支架材料可以应用于大面积的组织和器官的再生。

Q: 近年来,再生医学领域有什么突破性的进展?这些进展对健康科学的发展起到了什么作用?

A: 近年来再生医学领域的突破性进展应该是细胞重编程以及干细胞的分化控制。这些研究成果将有助于疑难疾病的治疗以及衰老问题的解决。


Q: 作为一名科学家,最激动人心的时刻是什么?

A: 发现一种新的科学现象或研制出新的功能性生物材料时。

Q: 您觉得对您的职业影响最大的人是谁?是什么力量一直激励着您?

A: 对我的职业影响最大的是我父母。他们总是鼓励我不畏艰难,勇往直前。在我童年的时候就教育我自强不息,长大后多为人类做贡献。


Q: 科学工作之余,您如何平衡工作和生活?您最大的爱好是什么?

A: 如果时间允许,我喜欢料理。因为料理就像做化学实验,有材料,有过程,最终还有结果。我的爱好是慢跑,我几乎每天都跑。一些新的研究课题的灵感来自于跑步时。

Q: 什么时刻您最享受工作中的乐趣?在科研经历中有哪些趣事可以和我们分享?

A: 我喜欢尝试新事物。当我想到新的实验或制备新的生物材料时,会特别兴奋。

许多年前,我曾有过一次难忘的经历。那时,为了制备用于骨组织再生的支架材料,我想将羟基磷灰石沉积在聚乙丙交酯的多孔材料的孔结构的表面,所以将聚乙丙交酯的多孔材料浸泡在模拟体液中过夜。遗憾的是,尽管模拟体液的pH在7.4左右,聚合物还是被完全降解,彻底消失在溶液中,实验失败了。原因是聚乙丙交酯会在高离子强度的模拟体液中加速降解。后来,我针对实验失败的经验,利用聚乙丙交酯的多孔材料作为自体细胞培养的模板,让自体细胞外基质沉积在模板后,有选择地将模板加速降解,只留下自体细胞外基质,从而成功地开发了自体支架材料。如果没有那次实验的失败,也许就不会有自体支架材料的诞生。

Q: 您认为什么是科学工作者最重要的品质?您对从事科学研究的青年学生有什么建议?

A: 激情、想象力和勤奋非常重要。我喜欢这句名言:“只要你能想到,你就能做到”。希望与年轻人共勉。

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