The treatment of musculoskeletal defects, particularly bone defects, due to trauma, congenital defects, or other anomalies is dominated by the use of autografts and allografts. Autografts are tissue that is harvested from a donor site within a patient and re-implanted at the defect site. Allografts are tissue harvested from a cadaver. Each solution, however, has limitations and presents a need for suitable alternatives.
Our research interests lie in finding solutions to these problems through tissue engineering. The development of biocompatible and biodegradable scaffolds capable of sustaining cellular migration, proliferation, and differentiation is central to my work. Through the use of biodegradable polymers alone and in combination with ceramic materials, we are investigating strategies to synthesize scaffolds that are also capable of delivering proteins and growth factors essential for complete and adequate healing of bone defects.
Specific work includes design and synthesis of novel scaffold structures capable of sustaining substantial mechanical loading while having a 3-dimensional structure conducive to substantial cellular migration throughout the structure interior. Scaffolds are evaluated through extensive physical, chemical, and mechanical testing, cell viability and protein expression, and finally with in vivo bone defect models that test the overall healing potential of the constructs.
Other laboratory interests include development of bioactive polymeric surfaces to encourage bone ingrowth and bone-implant interface strength. Studies in this area included the chemical modification of polymeric surfaces and the incorporation of ion-donor ceramics, both of which initiate a calcium phosphate deposition on the surface of materials, ultimately leading to enhanced healing and bone formation. Additionally, methods to incorporate scaffolds into minimally invasive healing modalities is also underway.