When 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM Dec 07, 2007
Where 1670 CSE
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Engineering Biomaterials at the Molecular Level

Sarah Heilshorn, Stanford University

A promising new approach to designing biomaterials involves mimicking the tools Nature has developed to create functional materials at the molecular level. The polymers we design and synthesize are composed of engineered proteins created by bacterial hosts. Using genetic engineering techniques, the exact sequence of the monomers (amino acids) in the engineered protein polymers can be specified. By altering the sequence of amino acids, new classes of engineered polymers can be created with tunable mechanical properties, self-assembly features, degradation profiles, and biological interactions. These materials are ideal candidates to be used as drug and cell delivery vehicles, biomaterials for reconstructive surgeries, and self-assembling templates for nanotechnology. Recent efforts have focused on developing biomaterials for spinal cord regeneration, heart tissue engineering with human embryonic stem cells, and neural stem cell delivery in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and stroke.

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