Topics in Bioengineering

A Biomaterials Science & Engineering Approach for Pediatric Vascular Patches

Joyce Wong, Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Boston University

Apr 22, 2021

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A major unmet need are surgical solutions in the form of vascular patches for children with congenital heart disease. Current solutions involve multiple staged surgeries because the implants do not grow with the child. We have developed several methods using thermo-responsive polymers such as poly-Nisopropylacrylamide (PNIPAAm) to generate cell sheets or enzymatic degradation of polymers to generate layered tissue patches that mimic the cellular and extracellular matrix organization of native vessels. I will also discuss the various ways one can control vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) phenotype and function (VSMCs are a major cell type of blood vessels) focusing on physicochemical properties of the substrate as well as cell engineering tools of induced pluripotent stem cells that can report on cell state. I will also discuss the challenge of cell sourcing and potential autologous strategies for vascular patches. Finally, I will share our recent efforts of 3D printing towards replicating structural organization in blood vessels. Through this integrated biomaterials science and engineering approach, we hope to be able to mimic blood vessel native structural organization, and hence function, to generate pediatric living vascular patches.    

Speaker Bio

Dr. Joyce Y. Wong  is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering at Boston University. She is a Fellow of the NAI, AAAS, AIMBE,  and BMES.  Her research is in the area of developing biomaterials for the early detection and treatment of disease. Her current projects include pediatric bioengineered blood vessel patches, ultrasound contrast agents to detect and treat abdominal surgical adhesions, and most recently, biomaterials for women’s reproductive health. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications, 11 pending or issued patents, and has mentored over 100 trainees. In 2017 she received the Charles DeLisi Distinguished Lecture and Award, the highest honor in Boston University’s College of Engineering. In 2020, she received the Clemson Award for Basic Research from the Society for Biomaterials. She is an Associate Editor of the journal Drug Delivery and Translational Research. In 2014, as the Inaugural Director of a Boston University Provost Initiative promoting women in STEM at all levels, she launched ARROWS (Advance, Recruit, Retain & Organize Women in STEM). She was recently elected President-Elect of AIMBE.


Topics in Bioengineering


Jessica Brenn