Tissue Engineering Manufacturing
Dr. Wootton has diversified the project options for Cooper Union students by offering several collaborative projects in the area of tissue engineering, to develop and test novel biomedical manufacturing systems for tissue engineering and for surgical fixation. The first of these was an NSF-funded collaborative project with Drexel and Duke Universities to explore and test a new manufacturing method for computer-aided tissue engineering, based on electrowetting on dielectric technology (EWOD). EWOD allows generation and manipulation of very small droplets, which can be arranged to create hydrogel microstructures with very fine resolution (on the order of 10 microns). Cells and growth factors may also be manipulated with EWOD, and combining these capabilities in one manufacturing system could give tissue engineers unprecedented manufacturing capabilities to for example create thick tissue constructs with built-in vascular systems to deliver nutrients deep in the tissue. This project was the source for four senior design projects and an independent study project. It also supported the creation of an outreach module (lecture slides and lab activities) to teach high school students about tissue engineering and manufacturing, and a two-week intensive introduction to mass transport modeling in tissue engineering of vascularized tissue.
Dr. Wootton is currently involved in a second collaborative NSF project with Drexel, Georgia Tech, and Arthrex Inc (a market leader in orthopedic surgery devices and tools) to explore a novel method to manufacture and optimize porous biopolymer composite surgical fixation devices. The project is focusing on the creation of a new biodegradable interference screw, used to fix a replacement ligament in a bone to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The porous design should improve healing and integration into the bone, but strength will be critical. Cooper Union will be a mechanical test site on the project and will develop educational materials and activities.
Dr. Wootton is also collaborating with Dr, Steven Warren in the Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU, on developing new biomaterials for large bone defects, and using CFD and control of scaffold microstructure to engineer perfusion flow in tissue engineering.to promote cell viability and differentiation.