Speaker: Karen Christman, PhD
Title: Professor in the Department of Bioengineering
Institution: Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego
Abstract: The extracellular matrix (ECM) is nature’s scaffold, and in recent years, researchers have isolated these scaffolds for tissue engineering applications by removing the cellular components, a process called decellularization. These scaffolds are known to promote cell influx, regeneration, and healing in a variety of tissues, and their degradation products have angiogenic, chemoattractant, and antimicrobial properties, as well as promote cell proliferation. By removal of the cellular antigens, these scaffolds are considered biocompatible, and xenogeneic sources can be used. While these scaffolds retain the native ECM structure, they are not amenable to minimally invasive, injectable procedures. We have developed a variety of injectable ECM derived hydrogels that self-assemble to form porous, nanofibrous scaffolds once injected in vivo or brought to physiological conditions in vitro. These ECM based scaffolds have been shown to increase tissue specific differentiation and maturation of a variety of progenitor and stem cells in vitro, and are showing promise in vivo in several tissues including the myocardium and skeletal muscle. This talk will cover the recent progress with these materials including the first clinical trial in myocardial infarction patients.
Biography: Dr. Christman is a Professor in the Department of Bioengineering in the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego. She received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University in 2000 and her Ph.D. from the University of California San Francisco and Berkeley Joint Bioengineering Graduate Group in 2003, where she examined in situ approaches to myocardial tissue engineering. She was also a NIH postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles in the fields of polymer chemistry and nanotechnology. Dr. Christman joined the Department of Bioengineering in 2007 and is a member of the Institute of Engineering in Medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Her lab, which is housed in the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, focuses on developing novel biomaterials for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications, and has a strong translational focus with the main goal of developing minimally invasive therapies for cardiovascular disease and women’s health. Dr. Christman is a fellow of the American Heart Association and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and has received several awards including the NIH Director’s New Innovator and Transformative Research Awards, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation Early Career Translational Research Award, the American Heart Association Western States Innovative Sciences Award, and the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society’s Young Investigator and Senior Scientist Awards. Dr. Christman is also co-founder of Ventrix, Inc., which has completed a Phase I clinical trial and is currently planning a Phase II trial with the cardiac extracellular matrix hydrogel technology developed in her lab at UC San Diego.