Musculoskeletal motion is facilitated by synchronized interactions between multiple tissue types and the seamless integration of bone with soft tissues such as tendons, ligaments or cartilage. Specifically, many of these soft tissues connect to bone through a multi-region fibrocartilaginous interface, which serves to minimize the formation of stress concentrations while enabling load transfer between soft and hard tissues. Given its functional significance, re-establishment of the soft tissue-to-bone interface is thus critical for promoting integrative soft tissue repair as well as the formation of multi-tissue systems. To address the challenge of engineering complex tissues and enabling biological fixation, our approach centers on interface tissue engineering, guided by the working hypothesis that the multi-tissue transition may be regenerated by controlled culture of interface-relevant cell populations on a stratified scaffold pre-designed with a biomimetic gradient of structural and functional properties. This lecture will discuss investigations into the structure-function relationship at the soft tissue-to-bone interface, which have yielded physiologically relevant scaffold design parameters for interface tissue engineering. In addition, both the design rationale and testing of stratified scaffolds for multi-tissue regeneration will be presented, along with a discussion of the potential mechanism regulating the formation and maintenance of tissue-to-tissue interfaces.
Dr. Helen H. Lu received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently the Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering and the Director of the Biomaterials and Interface Tissue Engineering Laboratory at Columbia. She also holds a joint appointment as Associate Professor of Dental and Craniofacial Bioengineering at the Columbia College of Dental Medicine. Dr. Lu’s research focuses on Orthopaedic Interface Tissue Engineering and the formation of complex tissue systems, with the goal of achieving integrative and functional repair of soft tissue injuries. Additionally, her research group is active in the design of composite biomaterials for orthopedic and dental applications. Her research has been recognized with Early Faculty Career Award in Translational Research (Phase I and Phase II) from the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the International Y’ROBOTS award for Research in Orthopedic Biomechanics and Sports Medicine, and the Young Investigator Award from the Society for Biomaterials. Dr. Lu was honored with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) at the White House in 2010, and was elected as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2011. Her group has published over sixty original research articles, invited reviews and book chapters in biomaterials and tissue engineering, and Dr. Lu’s research is supported by the Whitaker Foundation, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation, the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, the New York State Stem Cell Initiative, the National Football League (NFL) Charities and the National Institutes of Health.