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02/06/2018

Winthrop Biologist Part of Grant to Design Blood Vessel Replacements

Quick Facts

 Assistant Professor Matt Stern will work with colleagues from the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and Claflin College on the project, beginning this month.
 They were one of only four teams named as inaugural recipients of an EPSCoR/IDeA Stimulus Research Program created to strengthen South Carolina’s research efforts.

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Matt Stern
ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – A Winthrop University biology faculty member is part of a team awarded a $300,000 grant to engineer replacements for small blood vessels.

Assistant Professor Matt Stern will work with colleagues from the University of South Carolina, Clemson University and Claflin College on the project, beginning this month. They were one of only four teams named as inaugural recipients of an EPSCoR/IDeA Stimulus Research Program created to strengthen South Carolina’s research efforts.

Their project brings together faculty members with expertise in cardiovascular biology, biomechanics, computational modeling, proteomics and cell physiology. They will work together to engineer an “off-the-shelf” scaffold for small diameter vessel replacement.

“The exciting part about our approach is that we’ll use biological data from our experiments to create computer models to improve our designs,” said Stern.

The faculty members justified their project in their proposal by writing that the impact of advanced biomaterials on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine have been somewhat limited in part because they haven’t been systemically tested.

This is particularly evident in the vascular field, the proposal said, where a large number of vascular replacement or repair surgeries are performed annually, such as bypass surgery, but there is a critical lack of sufficient replacement materials. Development of “off-the-shelf” materials could be used more efficiently and effectively and would be a substantial advancement to this field.

Stern’s role in the project will be to characterize how different cells populate and interact with different forms of the engineered materials. He’ll work with three undergraduate students during the school year and in summer research programs. Winthrop’s portion of the grant totals $75,000.

An important component of the grant, Stern said, will be to apply their research into the undergraduate biology, chemistry and engineering curriculum at the four participating institutions. Students will have access to generated data, form hypotheses based on this data, assist with experimental design and carry out experiments related to this project in the classroom setting.

The project grant cycle begins this month and continues through spring 2020. Their preliminary data will provide the basis for further collaborative proposals to the American Heart Association and National Science Foundation.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2404 or e-mail her at longshawj@winthrop.edu.

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