Biomaterial Strategies to Detect and Treat Cardiovascular Disease

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Thursday, December 3, 2015 - 4:30pm

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It is well known in materials science and engineering that the structural organization of a material system is instrumental in determining its functional properties. Similarly, biological tissues are characterized by unique architectures that perform specific functions. Here I will describe strategies to recapitulate the hierarchical organization using small diameter blood vessels as an example. These approaches can be applied to other laminate and layered systems such as skin. Our approach is to combine micropatterning techniques with thermoresponsive (poly-N-isopropylacrylamide) surfaces that enable the release of cell sheets that mimic the alignment of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) layers of the artery. 

While tissue engineering can provide solutions for replacing diseased tissues, it would be highly desirable to develop methods that would detect cardiovascular disease early –before the disease has progressed to the point requiring surgical intervention. We have therefore also been developing contrast agents that would enable molecular targeting of cardiovascular disease. In addition, we have been developing theranostic agents can serve to simultaneously image and release a drug payload to targeted areas. Tissue-engineered models such as angiogenesis-on-a-chip can be used to optimize these theranostic agents with the aim of early disease


Joyce Y. Wong is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering, and a College of Engineering Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Boston University. She is co-director of an Affinity Research Collaborative in Nanotheranostics, and member of the Biomolecular Pharmacology Program, Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, Center for Regenerative Medicine, and Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology. She has over 75 publications, and her research focuses on the development of biomaterials to probe how structure, material properties and composition of the cell-biomaterial interface affect fundamental cellular processes. Her research interests include pediatric vascular tissue engineering and intravascular pharmacology; development of targeted contrast agents for combined therapeutics and diagnostics (theranostics) of atherosclerotic and vulnerable plaque; and engineering biomimetic systems to study restenosis and cancer metastasis.

Her research has been funded by NIH, NSF, NASA, DOE, and industry. She has one patent and two patents pending, and she recently completed one of the NSF I-CORPS training programs. She is an editorial board member of 6 journals related to biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and she was Chair of the Gordon Research Conference in Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering in 2011. She received the NSF CAREER Award, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professorship, Dupont Young Professor Award, and Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award.  Dr. Wong is a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society. She was recently appointed Director of a Boston University Provost Initiative to lead efforts to promote women in STEM at all levels from undergraduate to faculty: ARROWS (Advance, Recruit, Retain & Organize Women in STEM).