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BME Seminar Series: Dr. Robert Mauck

Tuesday, October 7, 2014
8:30 a.m.
Goergen Hall 101 (Sloan Auditorium)

Robert Mauck, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering
University of Pennsylvania

Abstract: Engineering fibrous tissues of the musculoskeletal system represents a considerable challenge due to the complex architecture and mechanical properties of the component structures.  Natural healing in these dense tissues is limited as a result of the mechanically challenging environment as well as the hypo-cellularity and avascular nature of the extracellular matrix.  When healing does occur, the ordered structure of the native tissue is replaced with a disorganized fibrous scar with inferior mechanical properties, engendering sites that are prone to re-injury. To overcome these limitations, we and others have adopted a structurally-motivated tissue engineering approach based on organized nanofibrous assemblies.  These scaffolds are composed of ultra-fine biodegradable and biologic fibers that can be fabricated in such a way as to recreate the structural anisotropy typical of fiber-reinforced tissues.  This ‘straight and narrow’ topography not only provides tailored mechanical properties, but also serves as a 3D micro-pattern for directed cellular behavior and a template for new tissue formation. This talk will describe the underlying technology of nanofiber production, several newly developed fabrication strategies aimed at instilling dynamic and multi-functional characteristics (including drug delivery), and the mechanical evaluation and theoretical modeling of these composite materials as it relates to native tissue structure and function. Several case examples of in vivo tissue repair will be discussed, as will the remaining hurdles for clinical application of these materials.  Finally, data will be presented on the use of these materials to query basic mechanisms of stem cell response to topography and mechanical perturbation, how these responses vary with differentiation status, and what this might mean for tissue repair.