Bottlebrush Hydrogels as Tunable Tissue Engineering Scaffolds
Senior Investigator: Robert Macfarlane, Assistant Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Tissue engineering (TE) is a promising method to grow artificial tissues for biological and biomedical applications, typically implemented using a porous, flexible, and biocompatible scaffold for cells so that, upon growth and proliferation, they ultimately form a continuous three-dimensional biomaterial1,2. However, living cells and tissues are complex constructs, and synthesizing scaffolds that properly interact with them remains a challenge; scaffolds need to simultaneously be (1) biocompatible, (2) mechanically matched to the native tissue, (3) porous enough to allow for nutrient flow and tissue development, and (4) capable of presenting molecular signals that promote cell growth and viability. Therefore, while hydrogels are a promising tool for medicine and biology, several key limitations in these biomedical technologies can only be addressed via advances in the field of materials science.
Here, we will develop methods to synthesize new BBP architectures, crosslink them into gels, and characterize how different design variables affect the resulting gel physical, chemical, and mechanical properties. Our lab is uniquely suited to study these materials, as we possess the requisite polymer
synthesis and characterization capabilities necessary, and have proven expertise in manipulating soft material structure at the nanoscale via controlled polymer synthetic strategies10. Additional support from other member of CMSE IRG II will aid in our characterization capabilities.