Christopher Rodell, PhD
Center for Systems Biology
Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Development of Tissue Instructive Materials for Biomedical Applications
Biomaterials have continued to develop over recent decades. During this time, materials have evolved from ideally inert, passive scaffolds toward more complex engineered tools for interactively instructing biological systems. To enable their use in clinical applications, materials should be designed to display bioinstructive physiological stimuli, such as through their mechanical properties (e.g., to provide mechanical support) or through presentation of therapeutic drugs that may preferentially alter the physiological response at the site of tissue injury or disease. Here, I will present two examples of materials developed for clinical applications which aim to address underlying pathophysiological causes of disease. In the first example, I will describe the development of injectable hydrogels based on a combination of supramolecular and covalent bonds. The materials developed address the need for percutaneous delivery of the hydrogels to the heart via catheter, while also providing mechanical support necessary to prevent development of heart failure following myocardial infarct. In the second example, nanomaterials are developed for cancer treatment which exploit inherent phagocytosis by immune cells as a mechanism for therapeutic drug delivery. When used for delivery of appropriate immunomodulatory drugs, the nanotherapeutic preparation profoundly alters the tumor immune microenvironment, acting in concert with conventional cancer immunotherapies to improve outcomes.
Christopher Rodell is a postdoctoral scholar with the Center for Systems Biology, with appointments at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He previously completed his PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Rodell’s research interests are rooted in fundamental material development as well as the application of biomaterials for the treatment of various diseases. Both biomechanical and biochemical mechanisms of intervention are of great interest. To date, Chris has authored more than 20 peer-reviewed publications, 3 patent applications, and is the recipient of a number of awards, including an American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship and a Materials Research Society Gold Award.