Professor Tatiana Segura received her B.S. degree in Bioengineering from the University of California Berkeley and her doctorate in Chemical Engineering from Northwestern University. Her graduate work in designing and understanding non-viral gene delivery from hydrogel scaffolds was supervised by Prof. Lonnie Shea. She pursued post-doctoral training at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne under the guidance of Prof. Jeffrey Hubbell, where her focus was self-assembled polymer systems for gene and drug delivery. Professor Segura's Laboratory studies the use of materials for minimally invasive in situ tissue repair. On this topic, she has published over 60 peered reviewed publications. She has been recognized with the Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy, the American Heart Association National Scientist Development Grant, and the CAREER award from National Science Foundation. She was Elected to the College of Fellows at the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE) in 2017. She spent the first 11 years of her career at UCLA department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and has recently relocated to Duke University, where she holds appointments in Biomedical Engineering, Neurology and Dermatology.
Title of Abstract
Nearly all tissues in the body have the capacity to repair through local stem or progenitor cells, but that due to unfavorable environmental conditions during the normal healing process they are not able to do so. Our laboratory investigates hydrogel biomaterials as a way to “unlock” the regenerative capacity of damaged or diseased tissue to promote repair. Porosity is a feature of hydrogel materials that impairs morphogenetic signals irrespective of biochemical composition. For example, vascularization occurs at different rates depending on pore size and inflammation is reduced when a porous material is implanted when compared to a chemically analogous non-porous material. Our laboratory is pioneering work on the use of granular materials, which are composed of particulate matter, as an alternative approach to conventional hydrogels, which are produced from cross linked polymers. Though the particles are generated from the same polymers as the nano-porous material, the bulk hydrogel is formed through assembling a collection of particles. These bulk hydrogels have “pores” or void volumes in between the assembled particles, which are large enough to support cellular infiltration and tissue repair in skin and brain wounds. These granular materials have interesting features such as injectability, forming a jammed structure that conserves spatial positioning of the particles during injection, and the ability to seed cells as the porous scaffold is forming.
Research in the Segura Laboratory focuses on engineering hydrogel biomaterials to support the formation of a reparative niche within damaged or diseased sites of the body. Our gels aid in cell migration and proliferation, as well as serve as a platform for delivery of regenerative factors. We see remarkable outcomes when our biomaterials are applied to ischemic tissues, such as brain after stroke and chronic ulcers in skin, in part due to our gel’s ability to form a “space-filling vascular plexus” that not only helps to speed up healing, but also lays the groundwork for recruitment of endogenous stem or progenitor cells. This fosters regeneration of tissue rather than scarring.