Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Biomimetic chitosan tissue scaffolds for nerve regeneration"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Fall 2011 - DURI
Research area(s):
tissue engineering
Project Description:
Following physical injury, neurons are capable of regenerating in a process of axonal extension. Chemical, electrical, and physical cues are all known to influence the direction and rate of neurite growth. Tissue engineering therapies for nerve injury must use these signals to accelerate healing. We seek to characterize the mechanical properties of natural nerve tissue, including stiffness, Young’s modulus, and water content. This information will be used to prepare a new tissue scaffold using the biopolymer chitosan. Material properties will be varied by varying the content of genipin, a natural crosslinking agent. Neural cell culture on and in these hydrogels will evaluate their efficacy at encouraging axonal regeneration.
Expected Student Contributions:
The undergraduate student researcher is expected to perform rheological, compression, and tensile testing. This project will also involve chemical preparation of the chitosan-genipin hydrogels, neural cell culture, and extensive microscopy. The intern will also present their findings in laboratory meetings and potential publications.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
A successful applicant should have Junior or Senior standing in an Engineering, Biological, or Chemical major with a GPA: 3.3 and above. They must possess a strong work ethic ,willingness to learn new techniques, and an interest in both basic and applied research. Familiarity with rheometry and cell culture is a plus.
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?
Yes, 4 credit hours

Professor in Charge

Shi, Riyi
basic medical sciences

Student Supervisor

Riyi Shi

Cooperating Faculty

Sheery Harbin
Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering