Sara Pedron Haba

Sara Pedron Haba
Sara Pedron Haba
Research Assistant Professor
Biomedical and Translational Sciences
(217) 300-9012
2117 Institute for Genomic Biology

For More Information


  • PhD, Materials Science and Engineering, Institute of Polymer Science and Technology (CSIC) - University Carlos III Madrid, 2004-2009
  • BS, Chemistry, University of Valencia, 2001

Academic Positions

  • Research Assistant Professor, Carle Illinois College of Medicine, 2021 - present
  • Affiliate Research Assistant Professor, Carl R Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, 2021 - present
  • Research Assistant Professor, Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, 2019 - present
  • Research Scientist, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2017-2019
  • Postdoctorate, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011-2016
  • Senior Research Scientist, Philips Research Laboratories, Eindhoven (The Netherlands), 2009-2011

Research Statement

We have insufficient understanding of the complexity of the brain. Most in vitro systems do not recreate its biology and function. Moreover, the obstacles to studying the interactions between human genetics and environmental factors results in a gap of knowledge about the causes of brain diseases. Microphysiological systems seek to integrate different brain cells in a controlled three-dimensional environmental configuration to obtain platforms that better recreate brain physiology in a simple and affordable approach. These systems will enhance the efficacy and toxicological assessment for specific patients, enhancing treatment options and improving patient’s quality of life.

There is an urgent clinical need for the development of physiologically relevant platforms that can mimic the brain. My research goal is to serve in the advancement of this technology to create biomaterial-based platforms that study disease development and therapeutic approaches. I focus on these areas:

1. Recreate brain disease microenvironments. Construction of complex biomaterial platforms that address the required signals to control cell fate in multicellular platforms.

2. Materials and chemistry. Responsive and dynamic biomaterials that mimic the properties of the cellular microenvironment, provide appropriate signaling and monitor cell response.

3. Therapeutics. Monitoring of mechanisms of tumor resistance and establishment of alternative therapeutic targets.

Research Interests

  • Biomaterials for tissue engineering
  • Bioactive microenvironments: cell-matrix interactions, tumor microenvironment
  • Brain cancer research; Cancer Neuroscience
  • Brain disease models

Selected Articles in Journals

  • Neves, ER, Harley BAC, Pedron S. Microphysiological systems to study tumor-stroma interactions in brain cancer. Brain Research Bulletin 2021, 174, 220-229.
  • Pedron S*, Pikkemaat JA, Soentjens SHM, Janssen HM, Broer DJ. Magnetic resonance imaging of opaque temperature sensitive polymeric scaffolds for cell therapy, ACS Applied Bio Materials 2020, 3 (11), 7639-7645.
  • Zambuto, S, Serrano, J, Vilbert, A, Lu, Y, Harley, B, Pedron, S. Response of neuroglia to hypoxia-induced oxidative stress using enzymatically crosslinked hydrogels. MRS Communications 2020, 10 (1), 83-90. This article was featured on the cover of MRS Communications.
  • Pedron S, Wolter GL, Chen J-WE, Laken S, Sarkaria JN, Harley BAC. Hyaluronic acid-functionalized gelatin hydrogels reveal extracellular matrix signals temper the efficacy of erlotinib against patient-derived glioblastoma specimens. Biomaterials 2019, 219, 119371, ISSN 0142-9612.
  • Sun Han Chang R, Lee J C-W, Pedron S, Harley BAC, Rogers SA. Rheological analysis of the gelation kinetics of an enzyme-crosslinked PEG hydrogel. Biomacromolecules 2019, 20 (6), 2198–2206.
  • Pedron S, Harley BAC. Editorial: Biomaterials for Brain Therapy and Repair. Editorial Research Topic, Frontiers in Materials 2018, 5:67. doi: 10.3389/fmats.2018.00067.
  • Magarinos AM, Pedron S, Pfaff DW, Harley BAC. The feasibility of encapsulated embryonic medullary reticular cells to grow and differentiate into neurons in functionalized gelatin-based hydrogels. Frontiers in Materials 2018, 5:40. doi: 10.3389/fmats.2018.00040.
  • Chen JE, Pedron S, Shyu P, Hu Y, Sarkaria JN, Harley BAC. Influence of hyaluronic acid transitions in tumor microenvironment on glioblastoma malignancy and invasive behavior. Frontiers in Materials 2018, 5:39. doi: 10.3389/fmats.2018.00039.
  • Pedron S, Polishetty H, Pritchard AM, Mahadik BP, Sarkaria JN, Harley BAC. Cell culture platform for preclinical testing of glioblastoma anticancer therapeutics. MRS Communications 2017, 7 (3), 442-449. Special issue on “Biomaterials for 3D Biology”.
  • Pedron S, Hanselman JS, Schroeder MA, Sarkaria JN, Harley BA. Extracellular hyaluronic acid influences the efficacy of EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors in a biomaterial model of glioblastoma. Advanced Healthcare Materials 2017, 6, 1700529.
  • Pedron S, Pritchard A, Vincil GA, Zimmerman SC, Harley BAC. Patterning of 3D cell microenvironments based on hyperbrached polyglycerols with independent control of diffusion and stiffness. Biomacromolecules 2017, 18 (4), 1393–1400.
  • Chen JE, Pedron S, Harley BAC. The combined influence of hydrogel stiffness and matrix-bound hyaluronic acid content on glioma migration. Macromolecular Bioscience 2017, 17 (8), 1700018.
  • Rahil Z*, Pedron S*, Wang X, Ha TJ, Harley BAC, Leckband DE. Nanoscale mechanics guides cellular decision making. Integrative Biology 2016, 8, 929-935. *These authors contributed equally to the work.
  • Mahadik BP, Pedron Haba S, Skertich LJ, Harley BA. The use of covalently immobilized stem cell factor to affect hematopoietic stem cell activity within a gelatin hydrogel. Biomaterials 2015, 67, 297–307.
  • Pedron S, Becka E, Harley BAC. Spatially-gradated hydrogel platform as a three-dimensional engineered tumor microenvironment. Advanced Materials 2015, 27 (9), 1567-1572. This article was featured on the inside back cover of Advanced Materials.
  • Pedron S, Becka E, Harley BAC. Regulation of glioma cell phenotype in 3D matrices by hyaluronic acid. Biomaterials 2013, 34 (30), 7408-7417. This article was featured by the Illinois News Bureau and AAAS EurekaAlert, “Researchers develop new approach for studying deadly brain cancer” by Diana Yates, Life Sciences Editor.
  • Pedron S, Harley BAC. The impact of the biophysical features of a 3D gelatin microenvironment on glioblastoma malignancy. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A 2013, 101 (12), 3404–3415.
  • Pedron S, Guzman J, Garcia N. Polymerization kinetics of ethylene oxide methacrylates in ionic media. Macromolecular Chemistry and Physics 2011, 212 (8), 860–869.
  • Pedron S, van Lierop S, Horstman P, Penterman R, Broer DJ, Peeters E. Stimuli responsive delivery vehicles for cardiac microtissue transplantation. Advanced Functional Materials 2011, 21 (9), 1624–1630.
  • Bouten CVC, Dankers PYW, Driessen-Mol A, Pedron S, Brizard AMA, Baaijens FPT. Substrates for cardiovascular tissue engineering. Advanced Drug Delivery Reviews 2011, 63 (4-5), 221–224.
  • Pedron S, Peinado C, Bosch P, Benton JA, Anseth KS. Microfluidic approaches for the fabrication of gradient cross-linked networks based on poly (ethylene glycol) and hyperbranched polymers for manipulation of cell interactions. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part A 2011, 96 (1), 196-203.
  • Pedron S, Peinado C, Bosch P, Anseth KS. Synthesis and characterization of degradable bioconjugated hydrogels with hyperbranched multifunctional crosslinkers. Acta Biomaterialia 2010, 6 (11), 4189–4198.
  • Pedron S, Kasko AM, Peinado C, Anseth KS. Effect of heparin oligomer chain length on the activation of valvular interstitial cells. Biomacromolecules 2010, 11 (6), 1692–1695.


  • NextGen Star, American Association for Cancer Research (2021)
  • Nature Publishing Award, Society for Biomaterials (2016)
  • CPLC 10K Pilot Program, Center for the Physics of Living Cells (2014)
  • Doctorate Extraordinary Award, University Carlos III Madrid (2009)