Principal Investigator: Samira Musah, Ph.D.

Dr. Samira Musah is a stem cell biologist and a medical bioengineer. Her work has focused on the development of novel methods to direct the differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells and engineering of microphysiological systems (organs-on-chips or tissue chips and bioactive materials). She was recruited to Duke University with a joined appointment in the Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Medicine, Division of Nephrology. Research in her laboratory aims to understand the roles of molecular and biophysical cues in human organ development and how these processes can be harnessed to understand disease mechanisms and develop new therapeutic strategies. Her lab develops differentiation methods by the identification and optimization of multiple factors (soluble, insoluble, and mechanical forces) within the stem cell niche to guide organ-specific (kidney and neuronal) lineage specification. To engineer in vitro models of human tissues and organs, her team integrates their stem cell differentiation strategies with microfluidic systems engineering, hydrogel synthesis, biofunctionalization, and three-dimensional (3D) bioprinting technologies. In addition to actively publishing her work, she ensures that the technologies her team develop can be viable options for commercialization. These experiences have been instrumental in understanding how technologies from her lab could ultimately be translated to the market and advance to the clinic.

Faculty Page:
Email: samira.musah [at]

Samira Musah

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Nephrology
  • Duke MEDx Investigator
  • Affiliate Faculty of the Regeneration Next Initiative
  • Faculty Member, Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering
  • Faculty Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
  • Faculty Member of the Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics, Biophotonics Group
  • Harvard Catalyst Education Ambassador


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard University (Advisors: Prof. Donald E. Ingber and Prof. George M. Church)
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin—Madison (Advisor: Prof. Laura L. Kiessling, now at MIT)
  • B.S.-Honors, State University of New York at Binghamton (Advisor: Prof. Omowunmi A. Sadik)

Research Interests

Dr. Musah’s research interests include stem cell biology and regenerative medicine, molecular and cellular basis of human organ development and disease progression, organ engineering and tissue patterning, patient-specific disease modeling, biomarker identification, therapeutic discovery, tissue and organ transplantation, microphysiological systems including organs-on-chips and organoids, computational/mathematical modeling of complex biological problems, matrix biology, mechanotransduction and disease biophysics.

Selected Awards, Honors, and Distinctions

  • MEDx (Medicine & Engineering) Biomechanics of Injury and Injury Repair Grant. 2020
  • Whitehead Scholarship in Biomedical Research. 2020
  • Duke Incubation Fund. Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. 2020
  • Functional & Molecular Genomics Core Facility Voucher Program Award, Duke University. 2020
  • 100 Inspiring Black Scientists in America (Cell Mentor, Cell Press News). 2020
  • Sequencing and Genomics Technologies Core Facility Award (Duke University). 2020

  • Proteomics and Metabolomics Core Facility Award (Duke University). 2020

  • Chair's Research Award. Department of Medicine, Duke University. 2019
  • Early Career Investigator Travel Award. Keystone Symposia. 2019
  • Dr. Samuel M. Nabrit Conference for Early Career Scholars (Brown University), Invited Speaker. 2019
  • Duke University Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility (SMIF) Voucher. 2019
  • CPRIT Scholar, Cancer Prevention & Research Institute of Texas (declined to accept faculty position at Duke University). 2018
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund PDEP Career Transition Award (Ad Hoc). 2018
  • Baxter’s Young Investigator Award, Top Tier. 2018
  • Keystone Symposia Fellowship Program. 2017
  • MIT Rising Stars in Biomedical Engineering and Science, Featured. 2016
  • NIH/NIDDK Nephrology Research Fellowship. 2016
  • American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Research Spotlight, Featured. 2016
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund Postdoctoral Enrichment Fellowship. 2015
  • Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellowship (Harvard Medical School). 2014
  • UNCF-Merck Postdoctoral Science Research Fellowship. 2014
  • AkzoNobel Award in Applied Polymer Science, Finalist. 2012
  • First Prize, Ruth and William Silen, M.D. Award for Exceptional Scientific Poster. 2014
  • First Prize, Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research Postdoctoral Award. 2014
  • Winner, The Why Files Cool Science Image Contest. 2011
  • NIH Chemical-Biology Interface Training Grant. 2011
  • Merck Graduate Research Award. 2008
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. 2007

Professional Affiliations

  • International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)
  • Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
  • American Society of Nephrology (ASN)
  • American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)
  • Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering (CMBE)
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE)
  • Society of Biological Engineering (SBE)
  • American Chemical Society (ACS)
  • Keystone Symposia
  • Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS)

Invited Talks

  • Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, 2021

  • Keystone Symposia on Engineering Multi-Cellular Living Systems/Organoids as Tools for Fundamental Discovery and Translation. Keystone, CO, U.S.A., 2021

  • Wake Forest School of Medicine, Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, Winston-Salem, NC, 2021
  • University of Florida, Department of Biomedical Engineering, 2021
  • University of Maryland, Department of Bioengineering, 2021
  • Goldfinch Bio Research Seminar Series, Cambridge, MA, 2021
  • Leading Edge Symposium for Exceptional Early Career Scientists, Panelist, 2021
  • ISSCR Annual Meeting, Concurrent session “Modeling Development and Disease”, Virtual due to COVID-19 Pandemic, 2020

  • Columbia University, Tissue Talks, Laboratory for Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, New York, NY, 2020
  • Imperial College London, Department of Bioengineering, London, U.K., 2020
  • Gordon Research Conf. on Signal Transduction by Engineered Extracellular Matrices, Manchester, NH, 2020
  • University of Michigan, the Center for Organogenesis, Ann Arbor, MI, 2020
  • Stem Cell and Organoids Research Exchange (SCORE) seminar, University of Colorado Boulder, 2020
  • Fitzpatrick Institute for Photonics, Duke University, 2020
  • ‘From Stem Cells to Human Development’ Meeting (Organized by the journal Development), Dorking, UK, 2020
  • Pediatric Congenital Genomics Consortium CVDC Fellows Career Discussions, 2020
  • The Stem Cell Podcast, Guest (Provided by STEMCELL Technologies), 2020
  • AIChE AfroBiotech Conference, "Regenerative Engineering" session, Atlanta, GA, 2020
  • Faculty Panelist, Organoids & Organs-on-chips Trainee Symposium, Columbia University, NY, 2020
  • University of California – Irvine, Dept. of Pharmaceutical Sciences, CA, 2020
  • Tufts University, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston, MA, 2020
  • University of California at Los Angeles, Department of Bioengineering, CA, 2020
  • LaunchBio, “Larger Than Life Sciences” Series, Panelist, Durham, NC, 2020
  • Medicine Grand Rounds, Becoming Blue Series, Duke University Hospital, 2020
  • Keynote Speaker, 19th Chemical Biophysics Symposium, University of Toronto – St. George Campus, Toronto, Canada, 2020
  • Faculty Speaker, Duke University Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) Retreat, Durham, NC, 2020
  • Visibility STEM Africa Conference, Panelist for "Navigating Your Path in STEM", 2020
  • Regeneration Next Initiative Faculty Chalk Talk, Duke University, Durham, NC, 2020                                 
  • Keynote Speaker at TERMIS-Americas, Orlando, FL, 2019
  • Gordon Research Conference on Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering, Castelldefels, Spain, 2019
  • Kidney NExT5 Symposium, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Boston, MA, 2019
  • American Society of Nephrology (ASN) Kidney Week, Washington, DC, 2019
  • TEER Talks, Pratt School of Engineering, Duke University (Spring Semester), Durham, NC, 2019
  • Duke University, Department of Medicine Science Exchange Dinner, Durham, NC, 2019
  • Christopher Newport University, Department of Molecular Biology and Chemistry, Newport News, VA, 2019
  • 6th International Conference on Stem Cell Engineering, Los Angeles, CA, 2018
  • 3rd Bioengineering & Translational Medicine Conference, Boston, MA, 2018
  • Keystone Symposia Scientific Advisory Board Meeting, 2018
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center, Boston, MA, 2018
  • World Preclinical Congress: 3D Cellular Models. Boston, MA, 2018
  • 12th International Podocyte Conference, Montreal, Canada, 2018
  • Washington University, Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences, St. Louis, MO, 2018
  • Dwain L. Ford Lecture, Andrews University, Chemistry & Biochemistry seminar program, 2017
  • l’Institut Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (IPGG), Seminar Speaker, selected by the Microfluidic Committee (interdisciplinary talk at the interface of Microfluidics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics), 2017
  • Seminar speaker, IDEXX Laboratories, Maine, MA, 2017
  • Speaker, International Conference on CRISPR Technologies, Raleigh, NC, 2017
  • Keynote speaker, International Conference on Mechanics in Medicine and Biology (ICMMB) in conjunction with AusMedtech, Melbourne, Australia, 2017
  • Keynote speaker (multiple talks), Medicine Research Scholars Program, University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, WI, 2017
  • Harvard Stem Cell Institute Kidney Group Meeting, Boston, MA, 2017
  • New England Science Symposium (Recipient, Ruth and William Silen, M.D. Award), 2016
  • Nephrology Grand Rounds, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, 2016
  • MIT Rising Stars in Biomedical Engineering and Science Workshop, 2016
  • 7th Annual Retreat, Wyss Institute at Harvard University, 2015
  • Boston Children’s Hospital Stem Cell Day, Boston, MA, 2014
  • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, 2014
  • AkzoNobel Student Award Symposium at the 244th ACS National Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, 2012
  • WiCell Research Institute, Madison, WI, 2011
  • World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology Conference, Paris, France, 2011
  • Highlights at the Chemical-Biology Interface, Madison, WI, 2010