Thrust 2: Biomaterials / Bionanotechnology

Buddy Ratner 
(UWEB, Bioengineering & Chemical Engineering, Thrust Leader)

Biomaterials research started at UW in 1970. The biomaterials effort has steadily grown in funding, faculty, students ever since. The UW is recognized to house one of the most premier and comprehensive biomaterials programs in the world. Biomaterials thrust at the i-AMT covers a broad spectrum of biomaterials research from synthesis of porous scaffolds for controlled delivery of reparative cells and growth factors for repair or regeneration of damaged tissues to biointerface engineering for enhanced biocompatibility and expedited healing. The i-AMT research in Bionanotechnology focuses on the development of nanomaterials for cancer diagnosis and treatment and nanodevices. For cancer diagnosis, nanomaterials (magnetic nanoparticles, quantum dots, dendrimers, gold nanoparticles, etc.) are being developed to serve as contrast agents to enable in vivo imaging for early cancer detection. For cancer treatment, nanomaterials conjugated with targeting ligands serve as drug delivery vehicles for targeted delivery of therapeutics (chemotherapeutic agents, genes, etc) into malignant cells while ignoring healthy cells, significantly reducing or eliminating the side effects that accompany many current cancer therapies. Nanodevices are being developed to provide rapid and sensitive assessments of disease-related molecules by enabling the detection of molecular changes even when the changes occur only in single or a small percentage of cells, leading to various new cost-effective diagnostic, therapeutic, and treatment regimens.  Some examples of specific research projects in the Biomaterials/Bionanotechnology thrust are as follows:

1. Porous biodegradable 3D scaffolds and nanoscale materials for tissue engineering and controlled drug delivery (Pun, Ratner, Stayton, M Zhang).

2. Molecular control of surfaces for improved biocompatibility, sensing, and detection (Campbell, Horbett, S Jiang, Ratner, Sarikaya).

3. Smart magnetic nanoparticles and quantum dots for molecular imaging, targeted therapy, and personalized medicine (X Gao, Stayton, M Zhang, S Zhang).

4. Microfluidics and nanodevices for the manipulation of biological fluids and monitoring of medically significant analytes (Böhringer, D Gao, Parviz, Yager)

5. Single molecular and cell detection for high-throughput drug screening and fundamental cell biology studies (Daniel T. Chiu, Miqin Zhang).

The investigators at the Institute are world leaders in biomaterials/Nanobiotechnology and have strong funded programs supported by NIH, NSF, DOD (AFRL, DARPA, ARL, and  ONR), DOE, and various private foundations including Bill & Melinda Gates, Whitaker, Dana, HQ, WRF, and industrial sectors. The researchers in this thrust come from the Departments of Bioengineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Mathematics.

Related UW Research Centers and Programs:

Genetically Engineered Materials Science & Engineering Center (GEMSEC)

University of Washington Engineered Biomaterials (UWEB)