Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering
Georgia Institute of Technology
B.S., Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
University of Kentucky
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Director of Graduate Recruiting in Biomedical Engineering
Drug delivery, regenerative medicine, RAFT polymerization, stimuli responsive polymers, intracellular delivery of biomacromolecular drugs, high resolution small animal imaging techniques, development of in vivo vascular contrast agents.
Regenerative medicine is a relatively new but rapidly expanding field geared toward stimulating the body to “naturally” (without surgical reconstruction or prosthetic implantation) repair tissues damaged by ischemia or injury. Current regenerative approaches typically involve delivery of stem cells or a single growth factor (i.e. VEGF or FGF) either directly or via gene therapy in an attempt to trigger angiogenesis and subsequent tissue recovery. Preclinical tests have generated a tremendous amount of excitement in this burgeoning field, but the initial human trials have shown modest therapeutic benefits. The overall goal of the Duvall lab is to better understand the biological and drug delivery barriers limiting the successes of the current pro-angiogenic therapies and to engineer innovative drug compositions delivered via polymer-based technologies to discover improved regenerative routes.
One thrust area in the Duvall Lab involves development of polymer-based, controlled delivery systems to efficiently achieve RNA interference and protein knockdown of gene targets that result in enhanced vascularization and healing at wound sites. The specific application currently sought strives to reprogram macrophages to produce an array of reparative factors rather than the cytotoxic secretions often released by these cells in settings of impaired wound repair such as diabetes.
A second focus of the Duvall Lab is to engineer systems to better harness the regenerative potential of paracrine factors secreted by stem cells. Stem cells have been shown to enhance angiogenesis and healing of tissues through the paracrine effects of their secreted factors on the cells in their immediate surroundings. However, current clinical stem cell delivery approaches often result in poor cell survival and engraftment at injection sites. The Duvall laboratory seeks to harvest the regenerative secretome of stem cells cultured in vitro and to design and optimize synthetic approaches to deliver these factors in a controlled manner at localized sites of ischemia or injury. Complementary experiments characterize the stem cell secretome and its properties and compare/optimize stem cell sources for application to various models of ischemia and injury.
The Duvall lab is housed within an approximately 2000 ft2 Biomaterials Laboratory shared with Professor Hak-Joon Sung in the Stevenson Center. This collaborative research environment contains the multidisciplinary expertise and equipment necessary to carry out cutting edge research that covers the full spectrum of synthesis, characterization, and biological testing of regenerative biomaterials.