Heilshorn Biomaterials Group

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Lei Cai

Postdoctoral Scholar

Ph.D. Polymer Engineering, University of Tennessee

B.S. Polymer Science & Engineering, Zhejiang University

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Genetically engineered peptides and proteins have demonstrated great promise for regenerative medicine. These materials often contain ECM mimics, multi-functional bioactive domains, and sequences that induce biorecognition-driven self-assembly. Meanwhile, synthetic and biodegradable polymers display enhanced tunability of tailor-made physiochemical properties. My research is focused on synergistically combining peptide or protein motifs with synthetic macromolecules to accomplish a higher level of smart and self-assembled hybrid hydrogels. Specific goals include the design of novel hybrid hydrogels that achieve multiple well-defined degradation rates, stimuli sensitivity, folding-unfolding transitions, and cell-programmable responsiveness to control the delivery of soluble factors, therapeutics, and cells for various tissue engineering applications.