Cole DeForest

Cole DeForest

Cole DeForest


Cole DeForest

Dan Evans Career Development Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Assistant Professor of Bioengineering

Affiliated Investigator of the Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine

Office: Benson Hall, Room 353
Phone: 206-543-5961
Fax: 206-543-3778
Website: DeForest Research Group


Education and Appointments

  • Dan Evans Career Development Assistant Professor, University of Washington, 2019 – present
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, 2019 – present
  • Affiliate Faculty Member, UW Medicine Diabetes Institute, 2019 – present
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Washington, 2014 – 2018
  • Core Faculty, Institute for Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine, University of Washington, 2014 – present
  • Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, University of Washington, 2014-present
  • Postdoctoral Research Scholar, California Institute of Technology, 2012-2013
  • Ph.D. Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, 2011
  • B.S.E. (magna cum laude) Chemical Engineering, Princeton University, 2006


Research Interests

  • User-Programmable Biomaterials for Directing Dynamic Stem Cell Fate
  • Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering
  • Controlled Delivery of Therapeutics to Treat Disease
  • Tool Development for Enhanced Proteomic Studies

While the potential for biomaterial-based strategies to improve and extend the quality of human health through tissue regeneration and the treatment of disease continues to grow, the majority of current strategies rely on outdated technology initially developed and optimized for starkly different applications.  Therefore, the DeForest Group seeks to integrate the governing principles of rational design with fundamental concepts from material science, synthetic chemistry, and stem cell biology to conceptualize, create, and exploit next-generation materials to address a variety of health-related problems.  We are currently interested in the development of new classes of user-programmable hydrogels whose biochemical and biophysical properties can be tuned in time and space over a variety of scales.  Our work relies heavily on the utilization of cytocompatible bioorthogonal chemistries, several of which can be initiated with light and thereby confined to specific sub-volumes of a sample.  By recapitulating the dynamic nature of the native tissue through 4D control of the material properties, these synthetic environments are utilized to probe and better understand basic cell function as well as to engineer complex heterogeneous tissue. 

More information can be found on the DeForest Research Group website.


Graduate and Postdoctoral Researchers

We are always on the lookout for creative, driven individuals looking to help make a difference in how we think about basic biology and the treatment of disease.  Please check our website for current openings.


Undergraduate Researchers

Undergraduates are an integral and important part of the research taking place within the DeForest Research Group.  Self-motivated students in Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, Chemistry, and Materials Science & Engineering are encouraged to contact Prof. DeForest by email with their CV and a short statement of interest.  Preference will be given to underclassman with the intent of performing research over the duration of their time at UW, though all applicants will be considered.


Selected Publications

  • Badeau, B.A., Comerford, M.P., Arakawa, C.K., Shadish, J.A. & DeForest, C.A. Engineered Modular Biomaterial Logic Gates for Environmentally Triggered Therapeutic Delivery. Nature Chemistry, 10, 251-258 (2018).
  • Ruskowitz, E.R. & DeForest, C.A. Photoresponsive Biomaterials for Targeted Drug Delivery and 4D Cell Culture. Nature Reviews Materials, 3, 17087 (2018) DOI: 10.1038/natrevmats.2017.87.
  • Arakawa, C.K., Badeau, B.A., Zheng, Y. & DeForest, C.A. Multicellular Vascularized Engineered Tissues through User-Programmable Biomaterial Photodegradation. Advanced Materials, 29, 1703156 (2017).
  • DeForest, C.A. & Tirrell, D.A. A photoreversible protein-patterning approach for guiding stem cell fate in three-dimensional gels. Nat. Mater. 14, 523–531 (2015).
  • DeForest, C.A. & Anseth, K.S. Photoreversible Patterning of Biomolecules within Click-based Hydrogels. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 51, 1816-1819 (2012).
  • DeForest, C.A. & Anseth, K.S. Cytocompatible Click-based Hydrogels with Dynamically-Tunable Properties through Orthogonal Photoconjugation and Photocleavage Reactions. Nature Chemistry, 3, 925-931 (2011).
  • DeForest, C.A., Polizzotti, B.D. & Anseth, K.S. Sequential Click Reactions for Synthesizing and Patterning 3D Cell Microenvironments. Nature Materials 8, 659-664 (2009).