Professor: Jonathan Butcher
Project Description: 3D printing has emerged as an attractive method for creating complex, heterogeneous, patient-specific tissues. However, printing heterogeneous tissue remains difficult because of the printable properties required to maintain shape fidelity in bioactive inks. Our lab has demonstrated heterogeneous bioprinting of heart valves, but the mechanical properties of these printed materials were not easily tunable to match native valves. The goal of this project is to create 3D printable materials with tunable properties that can be seeded with cells and cultured to create tissue constructs. Preliminary results have demonstrated the feasibility of bioprinting large constructs using UV crosslinkable bioinks containing tunable polymers. We will develop methods to determine printability and the cellular viability of the materials. Dynamic mechanical analysis (DMA) will be used to measure local moduli of both bulk bioink and homogeneous layer interfaces. Scanning electron microscopy will be used to determine porosity and changes in structure of the hydrogels before and after preparation for cell seeding. Print fidelity and reproducibility will be quantified using microCT. This printing method will be demonstrated with cellularization of perfusable channels and heart valves leaflets. Overall, these experiments will determine feasibility of 3D printing complex, heterogeneous geometries with highly tunable properties and cell attachment and viability for tissue engineering applications.