Recent advances in stem cell and 3D tissue biology have created new opportunities to study human developmental and disease processes as they occur in cells and tissues. Our laboratory is developing experimental approaches to study how scleroderma and diabetic foot ulcers develop and study how to better treat these conditions. Specifically, the goal of our scleroderma research is to develop fully-autologous 3D skin tissue models of scleroderma that will recapitulate disease heterogeneity. We use these 3D tissues to study communication between patient-derived keratinocytes, fibroblasts, T-cells and macrophages that activate fibrosis that critical in scleroderma pathogenesis. Our studies in diabetic foot ulcers use 3D tissue models harboring patient cells to understand how communication between macrophages, fibroblasts and keratinocytes can direct the healing of non-healing wounds. Our ultimate goal is to use patient cells for more personalized therapies to treat scleroderma and to repair damaged tissues and organs. We continue to develop and apply novel 3D, human bioengineered tissues that provide powerful platforms that closely mimic the form and function of human tissues and organs. We view 3D tissues harboring a broad spectrum of stem cells as a powerful translational platform that we leverage to test the function of cells derived from scleroderma patients and patients suffering from diabetic foot ulcers in an in vivo-like microenvironment to move our field from studying "disease in a dish" to studying "disease in a tissue."