Designing Dynamic Biomaterials for Controlling the Cell Environment

Friday, April 25, 2014 ( 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm )

Location: McLean 218A, Stevens Institute of Technology

Nancy Web, [email protected]

Dr. April M. Kloxin, Assistant Professor
University of Delaware
Departments of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
The nano- to macro-scale physical and chemical properties of the environment that surrounds a cell are known to play an important role in cell function and fate. Yet, less is known about how changes in these properties influence biological functions. For example, driven by transient bidirectional crosstalk between cells and the extracellular matrix (ECM), cell differentiation and tissue regeneration are complex processes that often involve the presentation of multiple cues that are tightly regulated over multiple time and size scales. Studying such dynamic processes in vitro remains challenging. Biomaterials, particularly hydrogels, have emerged as tools to probe how changes in the microenvironment regulate cell behavior towards directing cellular functions in the treatment of disease and regeneration of tissue. Engineering hydrogel-based materials from the bottom up enables controlled presentation of selected cues at the appropriate time and place within the cellular niche to answer questions of both fundamental and applied importance. This talk will focus on simple strategies to impart highly regulated property control by synthesizing monomers capable of forming hydrogels in the presence of cells and subsequently allowing triggered modification (e.g., light, enzymes, or reducing conditions) to tune the network’s physical or chemical properties. In particular, we will highlight recent results, as well as preliminary experiments, in understanding the critical cues that direct progenitor cell fate within collagenous tissues during regeneration or disease, including ligament repair, lung fibrosis, and cancer recurrence.
April M. Kloxin, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, and Biomedical Engineering (affiliate) at the University of Delaware (UD). She obtained her B.S. (Summa Cum Laude) and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, as a NASA Graduate Student Research Program Fellow. She trained as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute postdoctoral research associate at the University of Colorado before joining the faculty at UD in 2011. Her research group focuses on the design of responsive biomaterials and development of controlled, dynamic models of disease and regeneration. Her honors include a NSF CAREER award, a Pew Scholars in Biomedical Sciences award, the Western Association of Graduate Schools Innovation in Technology Award, the Max S. Peters Outstanding Graduate Research Award, and the ACS Polymer Chemistry Division Excellence in Graduate Polymer Research Award.