Tissue engineering aims to facilitate the re-growth of damaged or diseased tissues through the design of three-dimensional scaffolds and has implications for society in terms of treating spinal cord injuries and degenerative brain diseases. The overall objective of this research programme is to design, synthesize and develop new conducting and biodegradable scaffold materials with the capacity to deliver drugs or growth factors for applications in tissue engineering. To achieve this, three approaches are being considered. The first is the formation of nanoparticles and/or nanofibers of polypyrrole (PPy) with existing biodegradable polymers to form composites. Secondly, conducting polymer materials with both conducting and non-conducting segments will be developed. And finally, this objective will be examined using a natural polymeric material, melanin. These approaches will be achieved through a number of chemical and electrochemical techniques including electrospinning, electropolymerization and chemical vapour polymerization, as well as, organic synthesis and spin coating. These materials will also be studied in terms of their biodegradation rates, biocompatibility and their ability to promote cell attachment, cell proliferation and to stimulate nerve cell regeneration. In achieving this objective Dr. Hendy will develop new experimental skills, gain expertise in the synthesis of advanced polymeric materials for controlled drug delivery and tissue engineering and gain expertise in all aspects of a researcher’s role. In this area of biomaterials, MIT is the most prestigious University in the world, allowing Dr. Hendy to become exposed to new equipment, which in turn will help develop a host of new complementary skills; consequently this training, will have a key impact on both Ireland and Europe upon Dr. Hendy’s return.
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