Chemical Engineering Distinguished Speaker Seminar:
Designing Biomaterials for 3D Hydrogel Microenvironments and Neural Tissue Engineering
Dr. Kyle J. Lampe, University of Virginia
Neural regeneration within the central nervous system (CNS) is a critical unmet challenge as brain and spinal cord disorders continue to be the leading cause of disability nationwide. Engineering microenvironments conducive to stem cell guidance and neural cell growth in vitro and therapeutic regeneration in vivo can be addressed with hydrogel materials that mimic native neural tissue. Designer multifunctional materials are well-suited as they support independent tuning of multiple biochemical and biophysical properties and allow three-dimensional (3D) encapsulation of neural cells to create a physiologically relevant engineered extracellular matrix. We use both synthetic polymers and engineered proteins to create such 3D hydrogels with tunable stiffness and degradability. Our hydrogels are based on synthetic polymers like poly(ethylene glycol) and poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) or a recombinant elastin-like protein (ELP). By carefully tuning the degradation rate, antioxidant properties, integrin-binding ligand density, topography, and elastic modulus, we engineer cell instructive and cell-responsive elements to directly influence stem cell differentiation and self-renewal. Our current work applies these concepts to the myelin-producing oligodendrocytes of the CNS, and their precursors, in an effort to enhance their maturation and therapeutic utility. This talk will also touch on recent work to design new protein materials via all-atom molecular dynamic simulations.
Dr. Kyle J. Lampe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Virginia, and by courtesy, Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience. In 2017 he was named one of the inaugural class of Translational Health Institute of Virginia (THRIV) scholars with a mentored career development award. He was previously a Ruth L. Kirschstein NIH NRSA postdoctoral scholar at Stanford University with Prof. Sarah Heilshorn in the department of Materials Science and Engineering. Kyle completed his Ph.D. and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder and the Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, MO), respectively. Having grown up in rural Iowa, he is a proud supporter of engineers from first generation and rural families. Kyle also takes great pleasure in mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in his lab, particularly female engineers. The Lampe Group investigates biomaterials for tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and drug delivery within the central nervous system, developing both synthetic polymers and recombinant engineered proteins.