The normal formation and repair of human tissues is the result of a complex series of intra- and extracellular events culminating in functional tissue. The experimental strategy of delivering a single molecule to stimulate the body’s own mechanisms of growth and repair, either systemically or from a matrix, has assisted in our biological understanding of organogenesis. However, there is accumulating evidence that a single growth factor delivered as a protein for a short duration or as gene therapy for a slightly longer duration may not be sufficient for functionally significant regeneration of tissues such as heart, bone, cornea, and others. The presence of multiple factors (i.e. growth factors, cytokines, and cells) in varied concentrations during native repair suggests the combinatorial delivery of multiple signaling molecules coupled with the exposure of cells to biomimetic surfaces may enhance the formation, growth, and function of new tissues. Consequently, the guiding theme of my research is the engineering of tissues through the combination of synthetic and natural materials, bioactive moieties such as growth factors and cells, and physical stimulation in order to achieve a more natural engineered tissue.
I am also interested in the development of pharmacologic formulations that can assist in the treatment of heart attack and stroke. Encapsulation of clot-busting drugs in a variety of vehicles has previously demonstrated significant improvement over clinically used treatment options. We are developing new techniques to deliver these drugs which may result in viable treatment alternatives.
Research in the laboratory is highly interdisciplinary, employing methods in synthetic chemistry, cellular and molecular biology, materials characterization, drug delivery and gene therapy, and in vivo imaging.