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building better biomaterials

Materials found in nature have a variety of properties and functions that have yet to be recapitulated in modern synthetic materials. Using semisynthetic and biologically derived macromolecules we hope to create soft materials that capture the form and function of biological tissues.

research area 1: biomass is the new petroleum

Biomaterials are commonly made from petroleum derived chemicals and thus suffer from some level of unsustainability. Using a benchtop bioreactor we isolate large quantities of proteins, nucleic acids, and polysaccharides which serve as sustainable and biocompatible precursors to our materials.

research area 2: topological control of pDNA hydrogels

Control of topological features in soft materials to control bulk mechanical properties. Nature has precise control over the two- and three-dimensional structures of biomacromolecules. Inspired by nature's toolbox we hope to create materials which can rapidly change properties due to direct manipulation of topological structure.

research area 3: novel chemistries for making biomaterials

Construction of biomaterials is limited to a small set of chemistries which must be highly efficient to form gels and simultaneously be non-toxic to cells. Current methods are often slow and poorly chemo-selective making them inefficient. We seek to develop new chemical methods to form biomaterials and functionalize biomacromolecules.

research area 4: application

Our biomaterials are produced via methods which have been previously GMP approved, making clinical translation much easier. We mainly look at using our materials as biosensors and 3D cell scaffolds.