Combining molecular engineering and multi-scale fabrication to innovate new biomaterials for medicine and biology

My research program will utilize multi-scaled (nano, micro, and macro) fabrication techniques, combined with molecule engineering and cellular and molecular biology, to develop functional platforms of implantable devices tailored for applications in immunology, regenerative medicine, and disease monitoring.

Overview of Research Program

Background: The role of implanted biomaterials and devices in modern medicine is rapidly expanding, but their efficacy is often compromised by host immune recognition and subsequent foreign body responses. Recent discoveries on physical properties (geometry, surface porosity, mechanical stiffness) and chemical properties (molecular surface engineering, reducing protein fouling, and biomolecule displays) that can modulate host immune responses are now creating new opportunities to innovate novel, long-term functioning implantable systems for a broad spectrum of clinical applications, including cell transplantation, localized controlled drug release, continuous sensing and monitoring of physiological conditions, and tissue regeneration. While significant progress has been made, the clinical translation of these applications are still hindered by a lack of suitable biomaterials that can appropriately interact with the host immune system in a controlled and tailored manner. To achieve these goals, it will be necessary to; 1) expand our understanding of the interplay between materials properties and their influence on host immune responses, 2) based on discoveries, develop new materials with tailored properties to control host immune cell behavior, and 3) develop tools to non-invasively track cellular and biomolecular activity in vivo.

Figure Caption: Novel molecularly engineered polymers will be developed with tailored properties. Multi-scaled fabrication techniques will be used to generate broad diversity of nanoparticles and semipermeable porous hydrogels (varying geometry). The surfaces of these nanoparticle and porous hydrogel platforms will be molecularly engineered to interact with tailored biomolecules. These platforms will be designed and evaluated for applications in the promotion of vascularization, adjuvants for vaccines, immunoisolation of therapeutic cells, and to innovate new platforms for non-invasively monitoring tailored biomolecules in vivo.