Buddy D. Ratner

Joint Professor of Bioengineering and Chemical Engineering
Michael L. & Myrna Darland Endowed Chair in Technology Commercialization

Phone: (206)685-1005
Office: Foege N330J

UW Bioengineering faculty Buddy Ratner

Lab Website

How I am inventing the future of medicine

Medical devices and implants are engineered from specially designed materials, often referred to as biomaterials. Millions of devices and implants are used clinically in applications as diverse as blood vessel replacements, catheters, contact lenses, hip joints, ventricular assist devices and artificial kidneys. The biocompatibility of these prostheses is dictated by their surface properties and by the local mechanical environment they induce. In my research program, biomaterials are engineered to control biological interactions, synthesized, characterized and observed during interaction with biological systems.
Research Interests

Synthesis and characterization of polymeric biomaterials
Surface analysis by ESCA, SIMS, STM, FTIR-ATR, AFM
Plasma deposition of thin films
Research Description

Today’s biomaterials and medical devices save lives and improve the quality of life for millions. These are part of a $100 billion industry. However, there are also complications that stem from these devices, often associated with non-physiologic (fibrotic) healing, initiation of inflammation, thrombosis and/or bacterials colonization. The University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials (UWEB) program (an NSF Engineering Research Center) asks if healing and performance of implanted biomaterials might be engineered to be similar to the healing of normal wounds? To do this, we study the basic biology of wound healing in collaboration with colleagues who are expert in these areas. Then, we, as engineers, translate the basic science discoveries into technologies appropriate to improve the performance of medical devices.

We engineer new biomaterial surfaces using a wide range of technologies. For example, radio-frequency plasma deposition (a method borrowed from microelectronics) can readily place interesting thin films on existing medical device surfaces. These films can be used in the precision immobilization of key signaling molecules. We also synthesize new polymers that can be biostable, environmentally responsive, biodegradable and/or porous (i.e., scaffolds). The new surfaces and materials made in our laboratory are studied in contact with proteins, blood, living cells and tissues (in vivo and in vitro).

Recently, there has been considerable interest in tissue engineering in my laboratory. Tissue engineering exploits all the above principles in the context of tissue and organ reconstruction and regeneration. Specific tissue engineering projects in the Ratner lab aim toward heart muscle, esophagus, bone, cartilage, bladder, vagina and cornea. A new project seeks to model cancer tumor microenvironments using tissue engineering ideas.

Biomaterials/biocompatibility projects ongoing in my laboratory include:

  • drug delivery devices
  • porous scaffolds
  • tissue engineering
  • angiogenesis
  • healing in soft tissue
  • bioelectrode performance
  • bioattachment
  • biorecognition
  • polyurethanes
  • hydrogels
  • biodegradable polymers
  • non-fouling surfaces
  • blood-contacting materials
  • bacterial biofilms/infection

Biomaterial surfaces are the only part of a biomaterial or medical device that is seen by the body. Surfaces present unique analytical problems because of the small mass of material involved (a billionth of a gram of matter per square centimeter is typical). Special instruments are required to study surfaces, and we adapt methods developed in the physics and microelectronics communities to problems in biology and medicine. We use electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA), secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), infrared spectroscopy, scanning probe microscopies, surface plasmon resonance and sum frequency generation to observe surface structure and biological interactions.


PhD, Polymer Chemistry, Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, 1972
BS, Chemistry, Brooklyn College, 1967
Postdoc Information

Postdoctoral Fellow, Dept of Chemical Engineering, University of Washington, 1972-1973
Awards and Honors

2011-2012 AVS Biointerphases Lectureship
2010-2012 UW Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellow
2012 George Winter Award, European Society for Biomaterials
2012 Honorary Professor of Sichuan University
2012 Journal of Materials Science-Materials in Medicine “Best Paper Published in 2011” **
2012 Fellow, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (FTERM)
2011 Pierre Galletti Award of the American Institute of Medical & Biological Engineering
2011 Fellow, American Chemical Society
2010 McGowan Distinguished Lecturer, University of Pittsburgh
2010 Annual Faculty Lecturer, University of Washington
2009 Chandra P. Sharma Award, Society for Biomaterials & Artificial Organs (India)
2009 Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal Award
2008 BMES Pritzker Distinguished Lecturer Award
2008 J. Edward Berk Lecture Medal
2008 Listed in AIChE’s “One Hundred Chemical Engineers of the Modern Era”
2008 Frontiers of Science Award, Society of Cosmetic Chemists
2008 Kewaunee Lecturer, Duke University
2007 Bayer Lectureship, University of Akron
2006 C. William Hall Award, Society for Biomaterials
2004 Founders Award, Society for Biomaterials
2004 Distinguished Lecturer, University of Utah
2002 Elected to the National Academy of Engineering of the United States of America
2002 Medard W. Welch Award, American Vacuum Society
2002 Chair, Roundtable on Biomedical Engineering Materials and Applications (BEMA)
2000 Science In Medicine Lecturer, University of Washington
2000 Joe Smith Distinguished Lecturer, University of California, Davis
2004-2005 Robert F. Rushmer Professor of Bioengineering, University of Washington
2001-2004 Washington Research Foundation Endowed Professor of Bioengineering
1999 American Vacuum Society Distinguished Lecturer
1998 C.M.A. Stine Award for Materials Science, AIChE
1996 Van Ness Lecturer, Rensselear Polytechnic Institute
1995 Chair, Gordon Research Conference on Biocompatibility & Biomaterials, July 23-28
1993 Founding Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)
1993 Fellow, American Vacuum Society
1993 Fellow, Society for Biomaterials
1991 Perkin Elmer Physical Electronics Award for Excellence in Surface Science
1990 Burlington Resources Foundation Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Research
1988 Clemson Award for Contributions to the Literature
UW Bioengineering Courses Taught

BIOEN 492/592: Surface Analysis
BIOEN 504: Introduction to Technology Commercialization
BIOEN 505: Biomedical Entrepreneurship
BIOEN 511: Biomaterials Seminar

Selected Publications

“A Paradigm Shift: Biomaterials that Heal,” B. Ratner, Polymer International, 56:1183–1185, 2007.
“Investigation of the Foreign Body Response with an Implanted Biosensor by In Situ Application of Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy,” F.B. Karp, N.A. Bernotski, T.I. Valdes, K.F. Bohringer, B.D.Ratner, IEEE Sensors, 8(1):104–112, 2008.
“Biomedical Surface Science: Foundations to Frontiers,” D.G. Castner, B.D. Ratner, Surface Science 500, 28–60, 2002.
“Development of an electrospray approach to deposit complex molecules on plasma modified surfaces,” K.J. Kitching, H-N. Lee, W.T. Elam, E.E. Johnston, H. MacGregor, R.J. Miller, F. Turecek, and B.D. Ratner, Review of Scientific Instruments 74(11), 4832–4839, 2003.
“Biomaterials: Where We Have Been and Where We Are Going,” B.D. Ratner and S.J. Bryant, Annual Reviews of Biomedical Engineering, Vol. 6:41–75, 2004.
“Novel cell patterning using microheater-controlled thermoresponsive plasma films,” X. Cheng, Y. Wang, Y. Hanein, K.F. Bohringer, B.D. Ratner, Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, 70(A), Issue 2, 159–168, 2004.


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