A biomaterial is any material, natural or man-made, that is made compatible with living tissues and performs, aids, or replaces a natural function and is used and adapted for a medical application. Biomaterials may have a benign function, such as being used for a heart valve, or may be bioactive with a more interactive functionality such as scaffolds for cell delivery and engraftment and a delivery vehicle for controlled delivery of biotherapeutics.
The definition of a biomaterial does not just include man-made materials which are constructed of metals or ceramics. A biomaterial may also be an autograft, allograft, or xenograft used as a transplant material. Biomaterials must be compatible with the body, and there are often issues of biocompatibility that must be resolved before a product can be placed on the market and used in a clinical setting.
Petit Institute investigators are working on next-generation biomaterial technologies that integrate synthetic materials with biological functionalities to create innovative biomaterials that specifically interact with biological systems to elicit prescribed responses and biological integration.
This research encompasses analyses of fundamental mechanisms controlling host responses, design and synthesis of multi-functional materials, and evaluation in vitro and in vivo functional testbeds necessary for translation of these technologies into real-world applications.
Current focus areas include culture supports to direct stem cell fate, coatings for musculoskeletal implants and neural electrodes, immunomodulatory and anti-thrombotic materials, biofunctional hydrogels for composite tissue engineering, biosensors, delivery matrices for oligonucleotide, protein and cell biotherapeutics, hydrogels and scaffolds for vascularization and cell delivery and engraftment.