B.S. Polymer Science and Engineering University of Science and Technology of China
Biodegradable, recombinant protein hydrogels are finding widespread applications including cell encapsulation for three-dimensional cultures, controlled bioactive molecule delivery, and tissue engineering. They can be designed from the amino acid sequence up to mimic the biochemical and physical characteristics of native extracellular matrices. This design strategy enables the tuning of several material properties including mechanics, degradation rate, and cell-protein interactions. My project involves the synthesis of co-polymer hydrogels based on blends of engineered elastin-like proteins and synthetic polymers. A particular emphasis is the study of hydrogel microstructure to obtain fully transparent gels that better mimic the native cell microenvironment and to create hydrophobic domains within the hydrogel system for controlled delivery of hydrophobic drugs.