Published: June 22, 2022

It's been a productive few months, with eleven new publications since our last update in February. A quick overview of these articles:

At the beginning of March, group alumnus Ben Carberry's final manuscript was published in Macromolecules. In this work, he elucidated the degradation kinetics of thioester-crosslinked hydrogels and found interesting deviations from model predictions that demonstrate how dynamic covalent chemistries can be usefully implemented to accelerate stimuli-initiated degradation. Read more:

A few days later, in a related article, Bowman group graduate Shafer Soars (with help from Anseth MD-PhD student Bruce Kirkpatrick) published in Polymer International on novel self-immolative PEG-poly(thioester) hydrogels:

Later in March, grad student Max Yavitt published a perspective on controlling organoid growth with photoadaptable materials in ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering with co-authors Bruce and Michael Blatchley (postdoc):

We kicked off April in style with grad student Dilara Batan's first first-author paper in the group, published in FASEB Journal. Dilara, along with former postdocs Megan Schroeder and Brian Aguado and current grad student Mark Young, used hydrogel cultures to reveal variably stiffness-responsive influences of the stretch-sensitive ion channel TRPV4 on the fibroblast-to-myofibroblast transition in valvular interstitial cells:

To add to the April celebrations, Kristi organized a special issue of Advanced Healthcare Materials in honor of Nicholas Peppas and contributed an editorial highlighting his achievements and contributions:

Max and Michael contributed to a fantastic review from the Burdick lab (our new lab neighbors!) in Cell Stem Cell on studying and controlling spatiotemporal cellular processes with hydrogels:

Postdoc Varsha Rao (accompanied by group alumni Marissa Wechsler and Alex Caldwell, members of the Donahue group at UMass Amherst, and current student Bruce) published in Acta Biomaterialia. Varsha found that clustered MSCs from ovariectomized mice significantly increased their secretion of pro-resorptive factors above baseline, demonstrating potential regulation of post-menopausal bone disease by cell-cell contacts:

In May, postdocs Michael and Laura Macdougall and MD-PhD students Bruce and Nat Skillin presented work at MRS Spring 2022 in Honolulu. Additionally, graduate student Ali Borelli published her first first-author paper in Advanced Healthcare Materials! With collaborators Mark, Bruce, Varsha, and others, Ali demonstrated that stress relaxation in hybrid PEG-HA hydrogels controls ECM deposition and phenotype in MSCs:

June has been busy! To start, Laura (assisted by postdoc Tim Hoffman from the Spencer lab and Bruce) published in Advanced Materials on controlling biological activity and the cell cycle using bio-orthogonal and reversible intracellular hydrogelation. A true tour-de-force from Laura and a culmination of years of effort on the DARPA biostasis project:

Alumna Megan's final manuscript was published in Bioengineering & Translation Medicine. With help from Dilara and Bruce, as well as undergrads Kelly and Grace and a suite of group alumni, Megan developed a 3D model of sex-specific aortic valve disease and demonstrated that the bone sialoprotein osteopontin plays a role in the sexually dimorphic phenotypes that are observed in men and women (despite similar disease severity):

Finally, lab manager Connor published his first first-author paper today in Small. Co-authored by Nat, Bruce, Varsha, and undergrad Grace, this work introduces a new approach for fabricating granular hydrogels using various chemistries that are responsive to semi-orthogonal stimuli. These annealed microgel scaffolds were degraded in a logic-gated manner and used to culture cells in 2.5D and 3D with high viability across large size scales that are incompatible with encapsulation in bulk networks:

Congratulations to everyone who worked on these projects, and especially newly-minted first authors Dilara, Ali, and Connor!