Our Research

Innovations in biomaterials research have critically improved treatment options for human injury and disease. The Shukla Lab for Designer Biomaterials identifies and develops biomaterials solutions for critical unmet clinical needs in the areas of drug delivery and regenerative medicine. We apply concepts from polymer self-assembly, the study of molecular interactions, and cellular mechanobiology to create smart and informed biomaterials to address these biomedical challenges.

Layer-by-Layer Self-Assembly

Multifunctional Drug Delivery Coatings
Our lab is developing optimized medical device coatings for local drug delivery. Local drug delivery presents numerous advantages over traditional systemic drug delivery. These advantages include efficient treatment, limiting drug toxicity and bioavailability, and cost- effectiveness. Many local drug delivery devices are commonly used in the clinic including drug- eluting stents, orthopedic devices, catheters, and wound-dressings. These devices typically utilize polymers to load and control the release of therapeutics. Despite the widespread use of local drug delivery devices, many of these drug laden materials are plagued by sub-optimal drug loadings and ineffective drug release concentrations and duration. Our current focus is on developing local drug delivery coatings that efficiently combat bacterial infection.

-Local Drug Delivery Coatings Combating Bacterial Infection:
Current local antibiotic delivery methods are often ineffective due to low drug loadings of broad spectrum antibiotics at sub-minimum inhibitory concentrations, contributing to rising levels of antibiotic resistant bacteria, such as Methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). Our lab is currently focused on identifying and optimizing interactions between antimicrobial therapeutics of interest in order to create drug delivery coatings that contain maximized drug loadings and optimal drug release profiles. We are using both computational and experimental tools including layer-by-layer self-assembly to develop these drug delivery coatings. We will apply these coatings to medical substrates including catheters and implant surfaces to effectively treat common causes of device-associated infections including both planktonic and biofilm bacteria.

Human Mesenchymal
Stem Cell

Biomaterials Surfaces for Controlled Stem Cell Differentiation
We are interested in tailoring chemical, physical, and structural properties of biomaterials surfaces to guide the behavior of adult stem cells from various tissues. Local and systemic transplantation of stem cells has shown promise in treating a multitude of conditions ranging from large bone defects to coronary artery disease. Adult stem cells are especially promising due to a lack of ethical concerns that complicate the use of embryonic stem cells. These stem cells can self-renew and differentiate into a variety of cell types including adipocytes, osteoblasts, and chondrocytes. Developing optimized procedures to control stem cell differentiation can allow for the development of superior stem cell therapies. We are currently exploring the effects of cytoskeletal features on stem cell behavior in order to design biomaterials that can best control stem cell differentiation to specific lineages.

-Stem Cell Differentiation Based on Cytoskeletal Organization:
Cytoskeletal proteins are involved in the transmission of intracellular and extracellular forces, which are known to influence cell behavior including adhesion, proliferation, and differentiation. We are exploring variations in cytoskeletal organization between stem cells as they undergo differentiation. Based on our findings, we will use micropatterning and self-assembly techniques to develop biomaterials surfaces that can be used to optimally direct stem cell differentiation.

Left: oil red O lipid staining of stem cells,
Right: alkaline phosphatase staining of stem cells

Lab News and Events

July 23, 2014
Professor Shukla awarded a grant from the Office of Naval Research for antimicrobial field dressings
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July 10, 2014
Professor Shukla receives DEANS Award for advances in pathogenesis and medical research
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Other Links

Center for Biomedical Engineering, Brown University
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School of Engineering, Brown University
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Institute for Molecular and Nanoscale Innovation
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