Development of a Novel Block Copolymer Hydrogel for Meniscal Replacement

Tammy Haut Donahue Ph.D.
Inaugural Chair
UMASS Amherst
Bruggeman Room, CBIS, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Thu, January 24, 2019 at 2:30 PM

Menisci are C-shaped fibrocartilaginous tissues responsible for distributing tibial-femoral contact pressure and are crucial for maintaining healthy joints and preventing osteoarthritis. Meniscal damage can be caused by age related degradation, obesity, overuse from athletic activities, and trauma. Due to their primarily avascular nature, once damaged there is limited healing capacity and surgical intervention is often required. Limited technologies exist to replace damaged menisci, and standard treatment is to leave asymptomatic damage alone or perform partial meniscectomies, however, these treatment options lead to increased risk of OA. Attempts at tissue engineered meniscal scaffolds, and replacements have had mixed results due to design limitations and inability to recapitulate native tissue’s material properties, shape, and pressure distribution. This presentation will detail the development of an artificial meniscus from a polystyrene-polyethylene oxide diblock copolymer. Material properties of the novel artificial meniscus will be detailed, in addition to molding a 3D construct for joint implantation and the ability of the copolymer hydrogel meniscus to protect the underlying articular cartilage. Recent advances in material development will be discussed. We expect this meniscal replacement to provide a revolutionary addition to the field of osteoarthritis and treatment following meniscal injury.

Tammy Haut Donahue Ph.D.

Tammy Haut Donahue joined the faculty at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst in June 2018. She is the inaugural chair of the newly established Biomedical Engineering Department. Colorado She came to UMass after spending seven years in Mechanical Engineering at Colorado State University. Her PhD was in Biomedical Engineering from the University of California at Davis where she earned the Allen Marr Award for distinguished dissertation in Biomedical Engineering in 2000. She is an Editorial Consultant for the Journal of Biomechanics, and was integral in the establishment of the Orthopaedic Research Society Meniscus Section. She is currently a member of the Bioengineering Executive Committee for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Dr. Haut Donahue’s research includes analytical and experimental biomechanics of the musculoskeletal system with ongoing research in orthopedic biomechanics and post-traumatic osteoarthritis.  An emphasis is put on prevention, treatment, and repair of injuries to the soft tissue structures of the knee, focusing primarily on the meniscus. With over $15 million in funding from Whitaker Foundation, CDMRP, NIH, NSF, as well as industrial sponsorship her research program has had more than 60 mentees. Dr. Haut Donahue has more than 75 peer-reviewed publications  Dr. Haut Donahue was awarded the Ferdinand P. Beer and E. Russell Johnson Jr. Outstanding New Mechanics Educator Award from the American Society of Engineering Education for exceptional contributions to mechanics education. Dr. Haut Donahue is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.