Thrust 3

Rational Design of Interactive Biomaterials

Overall Scientific Challenge

The overall scientific challenge for Thrust 3 is to improve understanding of the effect of physical and chemical cues on cellular behavior across a range of length scales. The knowledge gained will be used to develop in silico models that will enable accelerated design and fabrication of new interactive biomaterials and devices.

Thrust Co-leaders: Tim Hanks (Chem, Furman), Qian Wang (Chem, USC), Michael Yost (Surg and Reg Med MUSC) and Guigen Zhang (Bioengineering, Clemson)

Contributing Faculty: Stephen Duncan (Reg Med, MUSC), Jianjun Hu (CS, USC), Jason Hurlbert (Chem, Winthrop), Konstantin (Kostya) Kornev (MSE, Clemson), Roger Markwald (Reg Med, MUSC), Ying Mei (Bioengineering, Clemson and Reg Med, MUSC), Nicholas Panasik (Chem, Claflin), Ulf Schiller (MSE, Clemson), Chuanbing Tang (Chem, USC), and Qi Wang (Math, USC)

The overall challenge of Thrust 3 is to improve understanding of the effect of physical and chemical cues of surfaces on cellular behavior across a range of length scales. The knowledge gained will be used to develop in-silico models that will enable accelerated design and fabrication of new interactive biomaterials and devices. Biomaterials are synthetic or natural substances that are engineered to interact directly with biological systems and influence structural functions. Recently, major advances in cellular and molecular technology have resulted in a new generation of smart biomaterials. While cells can respond to chemical features of underlying substrates containing domains as small as sub-nm, it is the topographical features of the substrates, from a nanometer to mesoscale, that effectively modulate many responses including adhesion, migration, proliferation, differentiation, metabolism and apoptosis.

The Thrust 3 challenges will be addressed systematically. During the first two years, new building blocks will be prepared and surface modified where appropriate. As these are made available, we will begin assembling them into 3D structures. In all cases, key chemical, rheological, and topological data will be collected and sent to the MCC for inclusion into databases. Beginning with simple, known materials, we will be developing protocols for measuring cellular response to surfaces and fabricated structures. As new materials become available, these will be tested similarly and the results sent back to the MCC for expanding databases and for the development of design tools. As the program progresses, tools from the MCC will enable the design and construction of second generation materials and fabricated structures. These, in turn, will undergo chemical and biological testing. Results from simulations will inform the design of second generation materials in advanced years of the project.