Our lab investigates the progression of fibrosis. When parts of the body become injured, occasionally excess connective tissue – made up of extracellular matrix (ECM) – can build up. This phenomenon, known as fibrosis, results in tissue becoming stiff and ultimately losing function. Fibrosis of the lungs can be triggered by viral infections or other insults, but also is known to occur without a definite cause. With the Pew award, I aim to determine the ECM signals that promote myofibroblast activation, regulating the development of lung fibrosis. We will mimic ECM's complexity in a unique three-dimensional culture platform to pinpoint the signals relevant to tissue homeostasis, disease, and repair. Identifying those signals would – in addition to setting a precedent for in vitro tissue studies – increase our understanding of fibrosis and provide new targets for therapeutic interventions.