Research Training Group 2154 - Materials for Brain

P6: Embedding implant materials into structured hydrogels (C. Selhuber-Unkel)

Cellular mechanosensing, i.e. the ability of cells to sense the mechanical properties of their environment, has become a highly important aspect in cell biology, biophysics and materials science. Particularly in the soft and hydrated environment of the brain it is essential to adapt the mechanical properties of implants to that of the surrounding tissue to avoid scar formation. Another important parameter is material structure (e.g. generated by 3D printing), as this opens up many perspectives for controlling cell behavior and mimicking the natural extracellular environment.
The goal of project P6, starting in April 2020, is to investigate 3D porous, structured hydrogels as coatings of brain implants, with a particular focus on their mechanics and stability. In addition, also forces applied by the surrounding tissue and brain cells shall be investigated.
The project is highly interdisciplinary as it combines different aspects from chemistry, biophysics and materials science such as hydrogel synthesis and functionalization, mechanical properties of soft matter, as well as studies of cell migration and adhesion.