The project focuses specifically making new biomaterials to treat a deformity of the auricle as the result of a congenital disorder called microtia, which affects one in 7000-8000 children in the US. Current treatments for microtia are surgically intensive, and can take years to complete, failing to mitigate psychological effects in children. Development of engineered auricle replacements that better match the mechanical properties of native tissue will improve treatment outcomes and reduce morbidities in children with microtia.
Leigh Slyker has been awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (F31 – Diversity) from the NIH. Leigh, a 4th year PhD student in Biomedical Engineering, will be collaborating with the Dr. Jason Spector at Weill Cornell Medical Center on “Extensible Collagen Hydrogels for Cartilage Tissue Engineering.”