Ph.D. Proposal Presentation by Rory E. Sallach
Monday, November 21, 2005

(Dr. Elliot L. Chaikof, Chair)

"Elastin Fibers as Design Elements for an Arterial Substitute"


Development of a small diameter vascular replacement for coronary bypass surgery has been described as the ‘Holy Grail' for cardiovascular tissue engineering. Novel graft designs have been inspired by characteristics of the arterial wall. In this proposal, it is anticipated that the generation of protein polymers that mimic native structural proteins offers a replacement strategy to develop a vascular graft with clinical performance results that match or exceed those of a native vessel. The reformulation of these proteins into nanofiber networks provides an opportunity to optimize the mechanical properties of an arterial bioprosthesis, as well as other biologically related characteristics, thus creating an optimal vascular replacement material.

The objective of this project can be divided into four areas: (i) to synthesize a family of recombinant elastin-mimetic proteins; (ii) to define their molecular level structure-property relationships; (iii) to develop nanofabrication strategies to create organized fiber networks, and (iv) to characterize the capacity of these artificial proteins for the generation of non-thrombogenic small diameter blood vessel substitutes with mechanical properties that closely match those of native blood vessels.