BME Seminar: Dr. Michelle Oyen, Cambridge University Engineering Department

Physically Robust Hydrogels for Biomedical Applications

Hydrogels have quickly become ubiquitous in biomedical research: as tissue engineering scaffolds, for drug delivery applications, and as substrates for studying basic cellular function.  Although promising because of their excellent cellular biocompatibility, many hydrogels have insufficient physical properties and are prone to brittleness.  This is a deficiency not observed in hydrated soft biological tissues, arguing for a biomimetics approach to hydrogel development.  Here, following an introduction focused on the challenges in measuring physical properties in hydrogels, two applications are discussed.  First, the charged environment found in cartilage is replicated using polyelectrolyte hydrogels based on polyvinyl alcohol and polyacrylic acid. These materials can mimic the electrostatic stiffening behavior observed in natural tissue while demonstrating diminished fluid transport due to the electrical charges, with a dependence on hydrogel cross-linking method.  Second, mimicking the biological nanostructure of collagenous soft tissues, weak hydrogels are reinforced with electrospun nanofibers.  By imitating the laminated fiber architecture of the cornea, dramatic improvements were found in both hydrogel strength and fracture toughness.   These examples illustrate how creative biomimetic fabrication methods and composite materials strategies can be employed to design novel, robust hydrogels for demanding biomedical applications. 


Michelle L. Oyen is a Reader in Bioengineering in the Cambridge University Engineering Department and is based at The Nanoscience Centre. She holds a B.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering and an M.S. Degree in Engineering Mechanics, both from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. degree in Biophysical Sciences and Medical Physics from the University of Minnesota. She joined Cambridge Engineering in 2006 following an appointment as Research Scientist at the University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics.  Michelle is a Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge. 



Monday, September 11, 2017 at 10:45am to 11:45am

322 ISE Lab, 322 221 Academy Street, suite 250E

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Students, Lectures & Programs, Academics, College of Engineering, Community, Lectures and Programs



Biomedical Engineering


ENGR - Biomedical Engineering
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Marguerite Mahoney

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Katia Santos Damacena Nunes left a positive review 9/11/2017

Was wonderful!!