A research team led by Dr. Wayne Carver, chair of the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, is one of four inaugural teams of the Stimulus Research Program (SRP).
The award will help fund the team’s project “Data-driven optimization of bioengineered vascular scaffolds as an advanced material for small diameter blood vessel replacement,” which will aim to generate critical preliminary data illustrating proof-of-concept toward the development of advanced biomaterial alternatives to the synthetic materials currently used in vascular replacements.
The Stimulus Research Program was developed by SC EPSCoR/IDeA to strengthen South Carolina’s research capacity and research competitiveness. Each proposal was submitted by a collaborative team consisting of at least two of the three comprehensive research universities and two predominately undergraduate institutions.
Carver’s team consists of:
- Dr. John Eberth, assistant professor in the Department of Cell Biology & Anatomy
- Dr. William Richardson, assistant professor of bioengineering at Clemson University
- Dr. Matthew Stern, assistant professor of Biology at Winthrop University
- Dr. Derrick Swinton, Chair of the Department of Chemistry at Claflin University
Carver says biomaterials for vascular replacement are very limited because of a lack of systematic, data-driven optimization of these materials for specific engineering applications. This deficiency is more significant in small vessel applications where synthetic materials are less effective and is addressed by the proposed studies.
“Due to the large number of vascular replacement or repair surgeries performed annually and the lack of sufficient replacement materials, there is a critical need for the development of optimized, 'off-the-shelf' materials that could be efficiently and effectively used for replacement of small diameter blood vessels,” indicates Dr. Eberth, a member of the team with over a decade of research in vascular bioengineering.
The project also will be used as a platform to incorporate “real” interdisciplinary research into the undergraduate biology, chemistry and engineering curriculums. Students will have access to generated data, form hypotheses based on these data, assist with experimental design and carry out experiments related to this project in the classroom setting. Select students also will be enrolled to participate further in the project via summer research programs.
The award provides a total of $300,000 over two years. The team hopes the preliminary data gathered in their studies will provide the basis for further collaborative, interdisciplinary proposals to the American Heart Association, National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.