Biomaterial systems with controlled temporal and spatial signal presentation for regulating stem cell behavior and tissue engineering

Date(s) - 09/02/2014
2:00 pm

Eben Alsberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Departments of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery, Case Western Reserve University


Tissue engineering holds the promise of producing functional biologic replacements to repair damaged and diseased tissues in the body.  We use the complex signals that are implicated in tissue morphogenesis, repair, and homeostasis as a template for the development of innovative biomaterial systems for tissue regeneration.  Through the precise temporal and spatial presentation of soluble bioactive factors, mechanical forces, and biomaterial physical and biochemical properties, we aspire to create biomaterials and microenvironments that regulate cell gene expression and new tissue formation.  During today’s talk, I will first discuss some of our work with high-density stem cell systems that has exciting clinical potential for treating diseases such as osteoarthritis.  By providing defined bioactive signals from within stem cell aggregates and sheets, it is possible to enhance chondrogenesis without extensive in vitro culture.  Next, I will discuss a new biodegradable biomaterial system we’ve engineered that allows for independent modulation of the soluble (e.g., growth factors via affinity binding) and insoluble (e.g., cell adhesion signals) biochemical signaling environment and biomaterial physical properties (e.g., the elastic moduli).  It will be shown how the capacity to independently control and spatially pattern these environmental parameters can be a powerful tool for elucidating their individual and combined effects on cell function for regenerative medicine applications.  Lastly, I will describe our efforts to control the delivery of RNAi. New three-dimensional macroscopic biopolymer scaffolds have been engineered retain and protect RNAi locally and release it in a sustained and tunable manner to prolong its gene silencing effect on transplanted cells and on cells directly at the site of interest for tissue engineering and cancer therapeutics.


Dr. Alsberg took a faculty position in 2005 at Case Western Reserve University, where he is currently an associate professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery and serves as Director of the Stem Cell and Engineered Novel Therapeutics Laboratory.  His lab focuses on the engineering of new technologies to regenerate tissues and treat diseases through the development of novel biomaterials and microenvironments.  He’s co-authored over 70 peer reviewed papers and book chapters and 135 abstracts and conference proceedings.  His work has been recognized with the 2008 Ellison Medical Foundation New Scholar in Aging Award and the Crain’s Cleveland Business 2009 Forty Under 40 Award.  The NIH, DOD, NSF, the Ellison Medical Foundation, the Coulter Foundation, the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation, the State of Ohio and the AO Foundation have supported his lab’s research.