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polymers chemistry, protein engineering, biomaterials, drug delivery

Sustainable tissue engineering platforms


My PhD work focused on broadening the use of sustainable tissue engineering platforms by developing polymers with chemical functionality that can be easily and rapidly fashioned into biomimetic physical constructs and activated with regulatory signals, such as biomolecules, peptides, and growth factors. I developed novel polymer synthesis methods that are straightforward and cost-effective with the goal of easing the path toward clinical translation. By developing practical and easily tunable materials that limit the upfront investment necessary to implement these tools, we can increase their accessibility in groups that do not traditionally employ synthetic biomaterial platforms for regenerative medicine. 

Injectable hydrogels for drug delivery


Injectable hydrogels are desirable for many biomedical applications, including localized delivery of therapeutic cargo. However, a current challenge for clinical translation of hydrogels for drug delivery is developing hydrogels that are simultaneously injectable across a range of stiffness, yet retain their mechanical properties post-extrusion. In my postdoc work, I developed design criteria for injectable hydrogels with dynamic covalent crosslinks (DCC). I further develop a DCC hydrogel system for sustained therapeutic delivery of cargo that overcomes rapid diffusion limitations to the mechanically active heart. 

Biomaterials for biofabrication of in vitro cardiovascular tissue models


Hydrogels are promising candidates for biofabrication of in vitro cardiovascular models to evaluate emerging therapies or as models of disease. In my postdoc work, I developed bioconjugation strategies to functionalize hydrogels with a variety of cell-compatible crosslinking chemistries. Some examples include 1) incorporating dynamic covalent chemistries in various polymer backbones for tuning matrix stress relaxation rate, 2) developing a hydrogel platform wherein the hydrogel stiffness can be tuned by altering polymer hydrophilicity and leveraging lower critical solubility temperature (LCST) behavior, and 3) combining static and dynamic crosslinks to achieve stress relaxation with enhanced stability. 

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