Biomaterials for Cell Transplantation and Drug Delivery for the Treatment of Nerve Injury

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Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 4:30pm

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The development of biomaterials to serve as scaffolds for wound healing and tissue repair is crucial for successful tissue engineering. My research focuses on developing biomaterials that promote cell survival and/or differentiation after transplantation for the treatment of nerve injury.  My lab has developed heparin-binding affinity-based drug delivery systems that sequester growth factors within scaffolds and release growth factors in response to cell in-growth during tissue regeneration.  More recently we have combined these scaffolds with embryonic stem cell-derived neural progenitor cells and shown that the combination of fibrin scaffolds and growth factor delivery can enhance cell survival and differentiation of neural progenitor cells transplanted after spinal cord injury.  Furthermore, we demonstrated this approach enhanced functional recovery after spinal cord injury, as assessed by gridwalk.  In conclusion, fibrin scaffold containing our drug delivery system can serve as a platform for cell transplantation for many applications in regenerative medicine by tailoring the choice of growth factors and the cell type used.


Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert received her Bachelor's degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering and Biology.  She received her Master's and PhD degrees from California Institute of Technology in Chemical Engineering.  She joined the faculty at Washington University in Biomedical Engineering in 2000, where she is currently a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Associate Chair for Graduate Studies.  Her research focuses on developing biomaterials for drug delivery and cell transplantation for the treatment of peripheral nerve and spinal cord injury. She has written 5 book chapters and over 55 articles in peer-reviewed journals. She has US 8 patents and additional 2 patent applications submitted.  Her research is funded by the NINDS/NIH, and previously she received early career awards from the Whitaker Foundation and the WH Coulter Foundation. She is a member of the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders and Center for Materials Innovation at Washington University.   Her honors include Corcoran Fellow California Institute of Technology (1996-97), 30 under 30 St. Louis Business Journal (2001), the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Advising and Mentoring (2008) and Recognition for Excellence in Graduate Mentoring – Graduate Student Senate and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences (2011). She is currently on the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) - Americas Council and served on the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Board of Directors from 2009-2012.  She joined the College of Fellows for the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 2011 and was elected a Fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society in 2013.  Her other professional service includes serving as an Associate Editor for Biotechnology and Bioengineering, a member of the Editorial Board of Acta Biomaterialia, on the Long Range Planning Committee for the Society for Biomaterials (SFB) (2003-05), and serving as a standing member of the Biomaterials/ Biointerfaces (BMBI) study section for the NIH (2010- 2013).  She also served as Chair for the 2013 Gordon Research Conference on Biomaterials & Tissue Engineering.  She is currently the co-President of the Association of Women Faculty and served as a Provost Faculty Fellow from 2012-2013.