Faculty Profile: Diane Hoffman-Kim, Ph.D., Brown University, 1993

Diane Hoffman-Kim
Diane Hoffman-Kim, Ph.D., Brown University, 1993
Associate Professor
Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology & Biotechnology
Work: +1 401-863-9395
The goal of the Hoffman-Kim laboratory is to understand axon guidance in complex environments and inform biomaterial and tissue engineering strategies for promoting nerve regeneration. We apply engineering techniques to biological systems in vitro to challenge growing neurons with multiple guidance cues, including diffusible factors, substrate-bound molecules, electrical cues, and topographical surface features.


Diane Hoffman-Kim, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Medical Science and Engineering in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology and the Center for Biomedical Engineering. She received her B.S. in Optics Engineering from the University of Rochester, her Ph.D. in Medical Science from Brown University, and her postdoctoral training from M.I.T., Harvard, and the Bunting Institute. Professor Hoffman-Kim teaches courses in tissue engineering and biomedical engineering. The goal of Professor Hoffman-Kim's research is to elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie axon guidance, both during the formation of the precise connections of the nervous system and during the regrowth of axons after injury. Her long-term objective is to apply this knowledge to the development of biomaterials and tissue engineered nerve substitutes for nerve regeneration.


Brown Medical School

Research Description

Research in the Hoffman-Kim laboratory focuses on understanding axon guidance in complex environments and developing biomaterial and tissue engineering strategies for nerve guidance and repair. We apply engineering techniques to biological systems in vitro to challenge growing neurons with multiple guidance cues, including diffusible factors, substrate-bound molecules, electrical cues, and topographical surface features.

Projects Include:

Biomimetic materials for nerve regeneration

Composite materials for neurite outgrowth

Novel micropatterned culture models toward strategies for Sudden Cardiac Death

Asymmetric micropatterns for studying Schwann cell motility

In vitro models for enhanced differentiation of neural stem cells

Algorithm for automatic tracing of confluent neuronal images

Axon guidance by multiple cues

Funded Research

CAREER Award, National Science Foundation
Title: CAREER: Axon Guidance by Multiple Cues
PI: D. Hoffman-Kim
Project Period: 2/1/06 – 1/31/12

1 R01 EB005722-01, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health
Title: Quantifying Axon Growth in Complex Environments
PI: D. Hoffman-Kim
Project Period: 9/1/07 – 6/30/12

Title: Axon Guidance by Critical Cues – Engineering Nerve Growth In Vitro and Observing From Afar
PI: D. Hoffman-Kim
Project Period: 4/1/11 - 3/31/13

Seed Funding Award, Brown University
Title: Novel Micropatterned Culture Model for Developing New Therapeutic Strategies for Sudden Cardiac Death
PI: D. Hoffman-Kim
Project Period: 2/1/11 – 1/31/12

Teaching Experience

Professor Hoffman-Kim teaches courses in the general field of biomedical engineering, including an upper-level undergraduate course, Tissue Engineering. Tissue engineering is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates progress in biology, materials science, and engineering, to work toward the goal of replacing or regenerating compromised tissue function. Using an integrative approach, BI0L 1140 examines tissue design and development, manipulation of the tissue microenvironment, and current strategies to reconstitute injured tissues. Ethical, legal, and regulatory issues that accompany current and emerging technologies are also discussed.

In her courses, Professor Hoffman-Kim also focuses on helping students develop the ability to explain scientific concepts to audiences with diverse backgrounds, a skill that is increasingly crucial in today's expanding and changing society. Facility at explanation is of particular importance in the fields of biotechnology and biomedical engineering, whose most exciting work is of great interest to the public, and often requires the participation of multiple diverse research groups to accomplish successful results. The goal is to improve oral communication skills of students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, with a particular focus on translating information across disciplines -- between biologists and engineers, and from scientists to non-scientists.

Courses Taught

  • Tissue Engineering (BIOL 1140)

Selected Publications

  • Mitchel JA and Hoffman-Kim D. Cellular scale anisotropic topography guides Schwann cell motility. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24316. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024316. 2011. (2011)
  • Richardson J, Rementer C, Bruder J, and Hoffman-Kim D. Guidance of dorsal root ganglion neurites and Schwann cells by isolated Schwann cell topography on poly(dimethyl siloxane) conduits and films. J Neural Eng 8. 046015, 2011. (2011)
  • Kim K-M, Kim S-Y, Minxha J, Richardson J, Hoffman-Kim D, and Palmore GTR. A novel method for analyzing images of live nerve cells. J Neurosci Methods 201: 98-105, 2011. (2011)
  • Kim S, Kim K-M, Hoffman-Kim D, Song H-K, and Palmore G. Quantitative control of neuron adhesion at a neural interface using a conducting polymer composite with low electrical impedance. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 3(1): 16-21, 2011. (2011)
  • Hoffman-Kim D, Mitchel JA, and Bellamkonda RV. Topography, cell response, and nerve regeneration. Annual Review of Biomedical Engineering 12: 201-231, 2010. (2010)
  • Kofron CM, Liu Y-T, Lopez-Fagundo CY, Mitchel JA, and Hoffman-Kim D. Neurite outgrowth at the biomimetic interface. Annals of Biomedical Engineering 38(6): 2210-2225, 2010. (2010)
  • Kofron CM and Hoffman-Kim D. Optimization by response surface methodology of confluent and aligned cellular monolayers for nerve guidance. Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering 2(4): 554-572, 2009. (2009)
  • Kofron CM, Fong VJ, and Hoffman-Kim D. Neurite outgrowth at the interface of 2D and 3D growth environments. J Neural Engineering 6: 016002, 2009. (2009)
  • Li GN and Hoffman-Kim D. Evaluation of neurite outgrowth using a novel application of circular analysis. J Neurosci Methods 174: 202-214, 2008. (2008)
  • Abe TK, Honda T, Takei K, Mikoshiba K, Hoffman-Kim D, Jay DG, and Kuwano R. Dynactin is essential for growth cone advance. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 372: 418-422, 2008. (2008)
  • Li G and Hoffman-Kim D. Tissue engineered platforms of axon guidance. Tissue Engineering B 14(1): 33-51, 2008. (2008)
  • Li G, Liu J, and Hoffman-Kim D. Multi-molecular gradients of permissive and inhibitory cues direct neurite outgrowth. Annals of Biomedical Engineering 36(6): 889-904, 2008. (2008)
  • Bruder JM, Lee A, and Hoffman-Kim D. Biomimetic materials replicating Schwann cell topography enhance neuronal adhesion and neurite alignment in vitro. Journal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition 18: 967-982, 2007. (2007)
  • Li G, Livi LL, Gourd CM, Deweerd ES, and Hoffman-Kim D. Genomic and morphological changes of neuroblastoma cells in response to three-dimensional matrices. Tissue Engineering 13: 1035-1047, 2007. (2007)
  • Bruder JM, Monu N, Harrison M, and Hoffman-Kim D. Fabrication of polymer replicas of cell surfaces with nanoscale resolution. Langmuir 22(20): 8263-8265, 2006. (2006)
  • Goldner JS, Bruder JM, Li G, Gazzola D, and Hoffman-Kim D. Neurite bridging across micropatterned grooves. Biomaterials 27(3): 460-472, 2006. (2006)
  • Song HK, Toste B, Ahmann K, Hoffman-Kim D*, and Palmore GTR*. Micro-patterns of positive guidance cues anchored to polypyrrole doped with polyglutamic acid: a new platform for characterizing neurite extension in complex environments. Biomaterials 27(3): 473-484, 2006. (2006)
  • Hoffman-Kim D, Maish MS, Krueger P, Lukoff H, Bert A, Hong T, and Hopkins RA. Comparison of three myofibroblast cell sources for tissue engineering cardiac valves. Tissue Engineering 11: 288-301, 2005. (2005)
  • Maish MS, Hoffman-Kim D, Krueger P, Souza J, Harper J, and Hopkins RA. Tricuspid valve biopsy – a potential source of cardiac myofibroblast cells for tissue engineered cardiac valves. Journal of Heart Valve Disease 12:264-269, 2003. (2003)
  • Hoffman-Kim D, Kerner J, Chen A, Xu A, Wang T-F, and Jay DG. pp60c-src is a negative regulator of laminin-mediated neurite outgrowth in chick sensory neurons. Mol Cell Neurosci 21(1): 81-93, 2002. (2002)
  • Hong T, Maish MS, Cohen J, Fitzpatrick P, Bert AA, Harper J, Feng D, Hoffman-Kim D, and Hopkins RA. Reproducible echocardiography in juvenile sheep and its application in the evaluation of a pulmonary valve homograft implant. Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science 39: 15-21, 2000. (2000)
  • Hoffman-Kim D, Lander AD, and Jhaveri S. Regional differences in immunostaining for chondroitin sulfate in the developing tectum reflect differential GAG biosynthesis. Journal of Neuroscience 18: 5881-5890, 1998. (1998)
  • Hoffman D, Breakefield XO, Short MP, and Aebischer P. Transplantation of a polymer encapsulated cell line genetically engineered to release NGF. Experimental Neurology 122: 100-106, 1993. (1993)
  • Hoffman D, Wahlberg L, and Aebischer P. NGF released from a polymer matrix prevents loss of ChAT expression in basal forebrain neurons following a fimbria-fornix lesion. Experimental Neurology 110: 39-44, 1990. (1990)