Research

The MBM Lab utilizes fundamental advances in polymer chemistry to provide biomaterials that could improve healing outcomes.

Our research spans polymer synthesis, 3D scaffold fabrication, materials characterization, cell/material interactions, bacteria/material interactions, and in vivo characterization of biomaterials.

Our research focuses on shape memory polymers (SMPs).

These ‘smart’ materials can be deformed and stored in a temporary shape. Upon application of a stimulus (e.g. heating to body temperature, exposure to water), the materials rapidly return to their original shape.

Specific applications of SMPs in the MBM Lab include:

SMP Foams for Hemorrhage Control

  • ~1.5 million deaths each year
  • 30-50% of deaths occur prior to reaching the hospital.

Urgent clinical need for effective hemostatic dressings.

Current Research Areas

Applied: Development of in vitro and in vivo models for hemorrhage to characterize SMP foam delivery and efficacy

Chemical: Modification of SMP foams with new functional groups to enhance clinical outcomes, such as degradation rate and hemostatic efficacy

Biological: Incorporation of antimicrobial and antioxidant groups into SMP foams to reduce infection risks and improve healing outcomes; Characterization of blood/material interactions

SMP Hydrogels for Crohn’s Fistula Closure

  • 35% of Crohn’s patients develop fistulas between digestive, urinary, and/or reproductive systems
  • 20-40% of fistula patients ultimately require bowel restriction surgery

Clinical need for improved, non-surgical fistula closure options.

Current Research Areas

Chemical: Synthesis of starch-based SMP hydrogels that degrade in response to enzymes released by colon epithelial cells.

Scaffold Fabrication: Porogen-templated hydrogel foams with tunable pore sizes.

Biological: Incorporation of antimicrobial and antioxidant groups into SMP hydrogel backbone to reduce infection risks and improve healing outcomes. Characterization of cell interactions with SMP hydrogels.

Bacteria-Responsive SMP Bandages for Wound Infections

  • ~50% of diabetic ulcer patients with a limb threatening infection do not show systemic infection symptoms
  • Infection is responsible for over half of burn injury deaths

Urgent clinical need for improved wound infection prevention, survelliance, and treatment

Current Research Areas

Chemical: Synthesis of SMPs that change shape in the presence of bacteria

Scaffold Fabrication: Electrospinning SMP fibers to control shape change

Biological: Characterization of cell and bacterial interactions