Biomedical Engineering - Carnegie Mellon University

Fancy Polymers

Biomaterials & Nanotechnology

Research activities in Biomaterials and Biotechnology spans fundamentals and applications, leveraging the strengths of Carnegie Mellon University in polymer chemistry and colloidal science. The rich environment, fostered by close interactions both within the University and between local institutions, provides a fertile ground for synergistic research.

Bio-Interfaces and Drug Delivery

Airway Model A common theme of research in bio-interfaces is the development of molecular-level understanding of complex biological systems and its applications in controlled release of therapeutic agents.  In collaboration with faculty in the Department of Physics and at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the groups of Robert Tilton and Todd Przybycien are developing surfactant-based aerosols for delivering antibiotics to infected lung. In addition, the group of Keith Cook is working on water-in-perfluorocarbon emulsions to improve direct drug delivery to the lung, using computer modeling for the analysis (figure to the right).¬†When treating bacterial respiratory infections, the perfluorocarbon liquid can be used to wash out infected mucus, deliver antibiotics, and calm pulmonary inflammation.
PEG Protein Conjugates The groups of Robert Tilton and Todd Przybycien are also conducting studies on attaching a long polyethyleneglycol tail to proteins for optimizing drug delivery (figure to the left). They showed that the attachment significantly decreases undesired adsorption of proteins to materials surfaces.
DNA Drag Tag Interfacial studies have also allowed the group of James Schneider to develop a highly effective method for size-based electrophoresis of DNA, by appending an electrically neutral moiety to DNA to create significant hydrodynamic drag (figure to the right). This s the first example of a noncovalent "drag-tag" for separating DNA based on both size and sequence.
2D Gel The ultimate actuator of cellular behavior is the proteome, the analysis of which represents a serious technological challenge for any “omics” analysis. The group of Jonathan Minden is developing technologies to improve the detection and identification of very low abundance proteins following their separation, such as on 2D electrophoresis gels (figure to the left), and to transfer minute amounts of proteins from electrophoresis gels to a mass spectrometer using microfluidics.
Electronic Biomaterials The group of Chris Bettinger design, synthesize, and characterize new biomaterials for use in integrating medical devices with the human body (figure to the right). The research applies principles of polymer chemistry and non-conventional microfabrication towards designing materials with unique combinations of properties, such as mechanical compliance and electronic conductivity. Prospective applications range from edible electronics for non-invasive neurostimulation to the integration of percutaneous medical devices with soft tissues.
Anti-coagulation Surface In addition, the group of Keith Cook is developing materials that limit coagulation upon contact with blood (figure to the left). These surfaces mimic the endothelium, which uses multiple, synergistic means of anticoagulation. Such materials are expected to address a fundamental challenge in many medical devices that cause serious side effects due to their interactions with the blood.

Nanobiotechnology and BioMEMS

The emerging field of nanobiotechnology integrates molecular assembly and nanoscale design to provide control over biological processes. Research in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in this area has focused on cutting-edge technologies for exploring untapped potentials while assessing the associated health risks.

ECM Fabric The group of Cohen-Karni is focused on developing nanoelectronics for exploring cellular electrical activities at the subcellular to molecular level. The nanoprobes have been used to perform highly challenging measurements of electrical pulses mediated by a few protein molecules. The platform may further be integrated into engineered tissues as either input or output devices with a high spatio-temporal resolution.

ECM Fabric The group of Adam Feinberg is developing strategies for preparing defined, self-assembled matrices composed of extracellular matrix components (figure to the right). His group is further using 3D printing technologies for constructing complex materials. Independent control of structure and composition in nanofabrics provides advanced scaffolds for tissue engineering.
Adhesion Pads The groups of Newell Washburn and collaborators are developing biomimetic adhesives structures. Microfabricated fibrils with adhesion pads are coated with biomimetic adhesive polymers found in mussels (figure to the left), for the purpose of strengthening the attachment of medical devices to tissues.
Microfluidics Using microfluidic techniques (figure to the right), the group of Phil LeDuc is able to control cellular responses to environmental factors at a high spatial and temporal precision, which in turn creates a “chemical signal generator” for probing the dynamic responses of live cells to defined chemical stimuli.