Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Member

Dr. Karen J.L. Burg, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Melinda K. Harman

Committee Member

Dr. Kyle J. Jeray

Committee Member

Dr. Julia Sharp

Committee Member

Dr. Dan Simionescu


This work centers on the development of a novel passive transport system for two tissue engineering applications – cell distribution and cell separation. This approach relies on a wicking fiber-based system, derived from the textile field that functions by directing and maintaining transport of cells as well as fluids and biomolecules. This system has the ability to enhance cell movement for both the purpose of cell seeding distribution as well as to isolate specific cell types from heterogeneous cell populations.

The success of spinal fusions and large bone defects is often limited by the decreased surrounding vasculature and the ability of cells to penetrate and proliferate both the surface and interior regions of large scaffolds. Therefore, the transport system was tested for improved mass transport, distribution of bone-forming cells, and infiltration of biomolecules in a commonly used spinal fusion scaffold. Heterogeneous cell solutions containing cancerous and benign cell types were used as the proof-of-concept isolation system, where the transport system rapidly and efficiently identifies and isolates cancer cells. Methods to identify cancer cells rely considerably on biomarker detection and analysis of gene expression, with biomarker detection often unreliable and limited. The transport system distinguishes and isolates cancer cells of varying metastatic potential. An integrated, interactive hands-on learning module was developed to introduce middle school female students to transport and tissue engineering principles. The hands-on activity introduces the engineering design process and promotes engineering problem solving.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.