Dr. Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert
Professor and Department Chair of Biomedical Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Sakiyama-Elbert's lab is interested in developing new bioactive scaffolds for tissue engineering. These scaffolds contain bioactive signals that include signals for cell-type specific adhesion and migration, growth factors to promote cell proliferation and differentiation. Her lab’s goal is to make materials that can sense cell-derived signals during regeneration and respond by providing biological signals to enhance tissue regeneration.
Growth factors are potent protein drugs that are powerful regulators of biological function. Their presence in tissues is highly regulated in both time and space. The ability to tightly regulate the release of growth factors is essential in the development of tissue engineering scaffolds. The Sakiyama-Elbert Laboratory is using combinatorial methods to design novel materials for affinity-based protein delivery. They are currently testing the ability of these bioactive drug delivery systems to promote nerve regeneration in both peripheral nerve and spinal cord injury models in collaboration with clinical faculty. They are also using these drug delivery systems in combination with neural progenitor cells to understand the role of specific populations of neurons in regeneration after injury.