Originally from Pittsburgh, PA with undergrad degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University
A critical function for tissue engineering scaffolds is the ability to promote cell adhesion, which is a first step for cell processes including wound healing and matrix remodeling. Synthetic polymer hydrogels, such as poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) gels, are attractive tissue engineering materials because their physical and mechanical properties are easily controlled. PEG gels can also be chemically modified to immobilize precise amounts of adhesive ligands. The preponderance of adhesion domains used to modify PEG gels in the literature are short peptides derived from matrix proteins, such as the RGD adhesion sequence from the tenth domain of type III fibronectin (FN10). However, domains of full-length proteins, which retain secondary structure, promote wound healing behaviors more effectively than adhesive peptides. Therefore, there is a clear motivation to develop PEG hydrogels that incorporate protein domains for enhanced cell adhesion and wound healing properties. Specifically, incorporating FN10 provides direct comparison with RGD-containing hydrogels, which predominate among adhesive PEG gels in the literature. This study considers differences in fibroblast behavior and morphology when seeded on PEG gels with RGD and FN10 domains. It further considers the possibilty of synergistic effects due to multiple ECM proteins by co-presenting elastin and fibronectin domains.