Ph.D., Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Surface Chemistry and Living Systems
My research focuses in several topic areas all of which involve surface chemistry. In particular, my students, post-docs and collaborators are investigating the interactions between surfaces and living systems, especially how the chemical and physical surface properties can direct cell behavior. My funding for the past several years and for at least the next three years has come from the Department of Defense's Medical Research and Material Command (MRMC), which is focused on the health of armed forces personnel both on and off the battlefield. We have worked with the MRMC on several projects, including the development of a handheld sensor for measuring blood analytes such as potassium and sodium in order to diagnose dehydration; the creation of biocompatible surfaces for use as implanted prosthetic devices. We are now investigating how surface chemistry and surface roughness can be used to promote the osseointegration of a titanium post with the remnant bone in the limbs of military amputees. This work also extends to the promotion of soft tissue regeneration around the site of implantation as well as the prevention of infection at this site. We are also investigating how to regenerate neural function in damaged limbs as a means of controlling prosthetic devices through the body's nervous system. Work in my laboratory breaks down into several specific projects: (a) creating surface chemistries that promote osseointegration of trans-dermal titanium implants in bone; (b) initiating regeneration of soft tissues around implant sites; (c) investigating strategies to prevent infection at wound and implant sites; (d) chemical patterning of surfaces to promote controlled growth of neurons and non-invasive stimulation of neuronal action potentials; (e) studying the effects of surface roughness and chemistry on cell morphology and expression; (f) bioreactor-based growth of tissue; (g) surface-based biosensors.
Students in my laboratory will encounter a highly multidisciplinary environment. We use any and all tools necessary to solve the problems we have undertaken. Therefore, students should expect to encounter and gain expertise in: surface modification techniques, self-assembly, surface characterization techniques such as goniometry; ellipsometry; grazing incidence IR; absorption and fluorescence spectroscopies; impedance spectroscopy; electrochemistry; surface plasmon resonance; fluorescence microscopy; AFM; cell culture; bacterial culture; organic synthesis.
Amputee Coalition of America, Science and Advisory Board, Member