Scientific Origins

The foundation of scaffold-free bioprinting can be traced to the laboratory of our scientific founder, Professor Gabor Forgacs, at the University of Missouri–Columbia. A biophysicist with expertise in developmental biology, his pioneering observations in the study of wing development in chicks led to a desire to analyze and model the cell-cell interactions of embryology.

Bioprinting scientific origins

Dr. Forgacs and his academic partners demonstrated that mammalian cells could come together and form multicellular aggregates of a controlled shape and size, and that the interactions of these aggregates were governed by many of the same physical principles involved in interactions between drops of liquid. He leveraged this understanding to build the first prototype bioprinter that enabled precise placement of these cellular aggregates—also called bio-ink—to form simple ring and tubular structures that interacted with each other to yield intact tissues.

Aggregatees-from-NovogenScaffold-free Vascular Tissue Engineering Using Bioprinting,
C. Norotte et al. Biomaterials 30, August, 2009

This was the first demonstration of directed assembly of three-dimensional tissues without dependency on integrated scaffolding or biomaterial components. Dr. Forgacs’ unique discoveries were captured in a portfolio of patents and patent applications that are licensed exclusively to Organovo. An experienced team of scientists and engineers at Organovo and its partners have continued to advance 3D bioprinting technology as the NovoGen Bioprinter™ platform. Today, we are actively developing and commercializing 3D human tissues for various research and therapeutic applications.