Project Info

Controlling the Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells using Alginate/Chitosan Biomaterials

Melissa Krebs

Project Goals and Description:

The growth plate is a complex cartilage structure located at the end of long bones which mediates growth in children. When injured, fibrous bony repair tissue can form, instead of healthy growth plate cartilage, which interrupts the normal pattern of growth and can result in angular deformities or growth arrest. Current solutions for growth plate injuries do not adequately prevent the formation of bony repair tissue and do not regenerate the healthy cartilage, making this a significant clinical issue. The objective of this work is to design injectable alginate/chitosan hydrogels that exhibit sustained release of therapeutic molecules that may aid in the prevention of bony tissue formation. Specifically, this study aims to design a hydrogel system with sustained release of short interfering RNA (siRNA) targeting the MAPK14 pathway in mesenchymal stem cells to prevent osteogenic differentiation. We hypothesize that alginate/chitosan hydrogels can be developed and tuned to provide sustained release of this siRNA, and that its therapeutic effect can be quantified in vitro using metabolite and gene expression assays, such as RT-qPCR. We are looking for a student interesting in helping to fabricate and characterize the in vitro effect of our sustained release biomaterials.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Engineer better medicines.    

Primary Contacts:

Melissa Krebs,

Student Preparation


Self-motivated, perseverance, desire to pursue bench research, basic knowledge of chemistry and biology.


100 hours / semester


Lab skills, experimental design and execution, data analysis, presenting written and oral results.


Weekly meeting, direct in-lab mentoring by graduate student.


Share This