Segura Named Co-Director of Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering
FEBRUARY 13, 2023 | MICHAELA KANE
Tatiana Segura, who specializes in using biomaterials to help the body heal damaged tissue, will lead the center with Charles Gersbach
Tatiana Segura has been appointed the co-director of Duke University’s Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering (CBTE). A renowned expert in the field of biomaterials, Segura’s focus at Duke involves using hydrogels and other soft materials to jump-start the body’s innate healing abilities.
This work aligns well with the mission of CBTE, which is centered on pursuing research and educational activities that link three broad areas of biotechnology, specifically protein engineering, cellular engineering and tissue engineering. Segura will lead the center with Charles Gersbach, the John W. Strohbehn Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, for the first two years of her appointment. After this transition period, Segura will take over as the sole director.
"It has been a privilege and highlight of my career to be involved in the leadership of the Duke Center for Biomolecular and Tissue Engineering, and to help facilitate the preparation of our PhD students for success as leaders in the biotechnology industry. With the recent renewal of funding for our Center for another five years, I am delighted for Dr. Tatiana Segura to join as co-Director of the Center,” said Gersbach. “Dr. Segura’s world-renowned accomplishments in biomaterials and drug delivery research are rivaled only by her reputation as an outstanding and engaging mentor and trainee advocate. I am excited to work with her to continue to evolve and improve upon our preparation of students for the biotechnology industry, and I am eager to see how her own personal touches extend and enhance the program.”
Segura earned a PhD in chemical engineering from Northwestern University in 2004, where she focused on designing and understanding non-viral gene delivery from hydrogel scaffolds under the supervision of Lonnie Shea. She later pursued post-doctoral training with Jeffrey Hubbell at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, where she studied the use of materials for minimally invasive tissue repair. Before joining Duke in 2018, Segura spent 12 years at UCLA. At Duke, she holds joint appointments in biomedical engineering, dermatology and neurology. She was also named a Duke MEDx Investigator in recognition of her work spanning engineering and medicine.
In her lab at Duke, Segura and her lab are pioneering new ways to develop biomaterials that can harness the body’s own ability to heal to push for improved outcomes, a process called endogenous repair and regeneration. These artificial materials can help create physical structures and send out biological cues that encourage surrounding cells to grow. Because the materials used by the Segura lab are made from natural substances, it can be broken down and removed by the body as the tissue around it heals. Segura co-founded Tempo Therapeutics to help commercialize these biomaterials, with the goal of using them to treat complex wounds and augment tissue growth.
One of the applications of this work is in the brain, where these new materials could support the growth of new blood vessels in damaged areas of the brain, potentially limiting issues caused by strokes and other damaging events. They are also developing materials that can be applied to the skin, with the goal of promoting new hair follicle and sebaceous gland growth, which could help minimize scarring and aide wound repair.
As co-director of CBTE, Segura will help introduce new programming for both scientific training and soft skills to better prepare trainees to be leaders in biotech fields. In addition to continuing the center’s strong seminar series and chalk talks from industry leaders, Segura will also focus on strengthen the center’s community and inclusion efforts both internally and across the university.
“The NIH biotechnology training grant program is very special to me. I was part of a similar training grant as a graduate student two decades ago and it is incredible to be now in the position to leading a similar program,” said Segura. “This grant provided me the community and training that was invaluable to my career, and I hope to be able to provide our new trainees with the skills and training needed for today’s biotech careers.”