Biomaterials and Nanomedicine

"We’re working with orthopedic surgeons to understand how to guide the immune system in trauma patients to help heal broken bones and joints."

— Caroline Hoemann, professor of bioengineering

New materials and biologically-inspired nano-designs are revolutionizing disease treatments.

We work with polymers, nanoparticles, lab-on-chip devices, and biologically-inspired designs to create novel systems that fulfill unmet needs in areas such as cancer, inflammatory disease, joint tissue repair, and next generation vaccines.

Our areas of expertise:

Bio-inspired nanoarchitectures for control of cell behavior

Nanoscale organization of bio-macromolecules on the cell membrane is crucial for numerous key biological mechanisms including antigen recognition by B-cell receptors as part of the adaptive immune response, pathogen entry into cells, and cell signaling.

We are developing biomimetic DNA nanoarchitectures to control the spatial organization of macromolecules and examine the role of antigen valency and organization in B-cell activation to further understand the macromolecular organization requirements needed for efficacious vaccines. We are also designing nanostructures that mimic the presentation of virus targeting moieties for efficient delivery of various therapeutic cargos. Principal investigator: Remi Veneziano.

Biomaterial-guided regenerative medicine

Caroline Hoemann, professor of bioengineering
Caroline Hoemann, professor of bioengineering, is researching how to use biomaterials to guide the immune system to heal bone fractures and fight infection.

Tissue repair is naturally initiated by a blood clot, which releases factors that attract innate immune cells to guide the healing response.

We use biomaterials to engineer the blood clot so that tissues can regenerate with more durable and functional structures. Biomaterials made of polysaccharides, chains of sugar units, can be used to alter cell migration—a type of inflammation—and increase the number of blood vessels that are attracted to a repairing wound.

We are investigating new methods to sense and predict the healing potential of complex bone fractures, as well as to predict whether certain individuals are at risk for infection or delayed healing of traumatic bone fractures. Our lab is also designing biomaterial implants that stimulate therapeutic inflammation and help treat damaged bone and soft tissues in the knee joint. Principal investigator: Caroline Hoemann.

mRNA delivery

Messenger RNA is a recent therapeutic modality with great promise in cancer, vaccines, and many other areas. The large size and sensitivity of this molecule to break down in body fluids requires packaging by a delivery agent that not only protects the payload but also releases it inside target cells. We develop new chemical entities that bind to mRNA to protect it and to allow transport through tissues to the target site and cell internalization followed by release and translation of the mRNA into the therapeutic protein or antigen. Principal investigator: Michael Buschmann. Watch Dr. Buschmann's research on YouTube.

Find out about our latest grants and awards.

Michael Buschmann, chairman of the Bioengineering Department, leads a group developing new mRNA delivery systems for use in vaccines and protein replacement therapies.

Michael Buschmann, chairman of the Bioengineering Department, leads a group developing new mRNA delivery systems for use in vaccines and protein replacement therapies.