Overview

Dorsal root ganglion explant (containing neurons, Schwann cells and supporting cells) dissected from rat embryos cultured on positively charged OPF hydrogel.

Biomaterials

The biomaterials area of the Tissue Engineering laboratory program provides synthesis, characterization, processing, and tissue-engineering application of novel polymeric and composite biomaterials. Biomaterial characterization is performed using large equipment such as FTIR, GPC, DSC, TGA, DMA, and rheometry. Novel scaffolds are processed using two free-standing solid freeform fabrication instruments.

Three main areas of applications using these biomaterials as drug delivery vehicles or temporary scaffolds are: bone, cartilage and nerve tissue engineering. Injectable composite scaffolds incorporating bone morphogenetic protein-2 have been developed to regenerate critical-sized defects in a rat femoral defect model. Hydrogels capable of cell and growth factor delivery are assessed for injectable cartilage tissue engineering. Finally, nerve tubes with multiple parallel channels have been investigated as guidance scaffolds for peripheral nerve and spinal cord regeneration. Projects in these areas are currently funded by three NIH R01 grants.

Cell and molecular biology

The cell and molecular biology area of the Tissue Engineering Laboratory program has grown in terms of personnel and projects in the last 2 years. This area provides a cell culture component to all of the on-going tissue engineering research projects. In addition, this area has evolved and led to several estrogen and cancer biology projects. Some of these projects have been funded or are currently under review for funding. Currently, we have 16 researchers, students and technicians engaged in tissue culture-based research. These projects include genomics and proteomics approaches and the use of primary tissue cultures, and cell line cultures, as well as different tissues (bone, cartilage, and neural).