In the Spotlight...

Elizabeth L. Hedberg-Dirk, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Center for Biomedical Engineering
The University of New Mexico

Dr. Hedberg-Dirk has disclosed eight inventions, received two issued U. S. patents, and has five pending patent applications for her polymer scaffolding technologies.

Dr. Hedberg-Dirk and her co-inventors have jointly developed a group of technologies for applications in tissue engineering. The technologies include a novel biocompatible, biodegradable co-polymer system for tunable degradation of crosslinked networks and a novel electrospinning technique for spinning liquid-phase polymers. This technique allows for the creation of non-woven fibrous materials with individual fiber diameters ranging from nanometers to microns from an entire class of materials that was previously considered unspinnable. The fiber sizes mimic native tissue environments and are therefore ideal for tissue engineering. This method can also be used in other areas such as wound dressings and separations. Another technology involves the design and fabrication of a 3D composite scaffold for in vitro tissue growth consisting of an assembly of various micro- and nano-patterned material layers encased in a water swellable electrospun mesh. The method of assembly constructs a 3D scaffold with micro and nanopatterns that can be precisely positioned so that a variety of chemical and physical structures can be created within a single scaffold, providing a model that mimics the conditions of a whole, complex living tissue. The compact fibrous mats expand in an aqueous environment and generate a multifunctional construct that is engineered on the submicron to millimeter scales. Because the process can integrate a variety of materials with different chemical and physical properties, the multi-layered scaffolds can be adapted for specific applications. The potential market for tissue engineering technologies is huge. The technologies, with further refinement, will produce clinical grade surrogate tissue systems which can be used for tissue repair, basic science studies, drug screening, and non-tissue based material systems.

Dr. Hedberg-Dirk's scaffolding technologies provide a novel method for using in tissue engineering. Every year approximately eight million surgeries are performed in the U. S. to repair tissue damage. Because standard tissue repair treatments are limited due to the potential for disease transmission as well as an overall lack of donor tissue, providers are interested in finding better treatment methods. The emerging field of tissue engineering is focused on solving this problem by developing a variety of new technologies that can replace missing or damaged tissues with living, functional engineered tissues.

Dr. Hedberg-Dirk's research focuses on the development of new polymeric materials along with novel processing techniques for the fabrication of materials with tunable spatial and temporal characteristics for tissue engineering and drug delivery applications.

Issued U.S. Patents

8,648,167 Polymer Scaffold Degradation Control via Chemical Control, issued February 11, 2014
8,809,212 Electrospun Fiber Mats from Polymers Having a Low Tm, Tg, or Molecular Weight, issued August 19, 2014

Pending Patent Applications

  • Polymer Scaffold Degradation Control via Chemical Control
  • Electrospun Fiber Mats from Polymers Having a Low Tm, Tg, or Molecular Weight
  • Porous Conducting Biocompatible Non-Woven Fiber Mats
  • Antimicrobial Materials and Methods
  • Fabrication of Neural Interfaces Using 3D Projection Micro-Stereolithography

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Learn more about 2015 STC.UNM's Innovation Fellow, Dr. Cheryl L. Willman, Director & CEO of the UNM Cancer Center.

Recently Issued Patents

Compounds with Reduced Ring Size for Use in Diagnosing and Treating Melanoma, Including Metastatic Melanoma and Methods Related to Same
U.S. Patent No. 8,986,651, Issued March 24, 2015. Inventors: Yubin Miao, Haixun Guo
Protocells and Their Use for Targeted Delivery of Multicomponent Cargos to Cancer Cells
U.S. Patent No. 8,992,984, Issued March 31, 2015. Inventors: C. Jeffrey Brinker, Carlee Ashley, Xingmao Jiang, Juewen Liu, David Peabody, Walker Wharton, Eric Carnes, Bryce Chackerian, Cheryl Willman
Conjugated Polyelectrolyte Capsules: Light Activated Antimicrobials
U.S. Patent No. 9,005,540, Issued April 14, 2015. Inventors: Kirk Schanze, David Whitten, Thomas Corbitt, Jonathan Sommer, Motokatsu Ogawa
Arg-Gly-Asp-Conjugated Alpha-Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone Hybrid Peptide for use in Diagnosing and Treating Melanoma, Including Metastatic Melanoma and Methods Related to Same
U.S. Patent No. 9,005,575, Issued April 14, 2015. Inventors: Yubin Miao, Jianquan Yang
System and Methods for Generating Unclonable Security Keys in Integrated Circuits
U.S. Patent No. 9,030,226, Issued May 12, 2015. Inventors: James Plusquellic, Dhruva Acharyya, Ryan Helinski