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Robert L. Mauck, Ph.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2014
For outstanding contributions to our understanding of the role of mechanical forces in the development of functional engineered tissues.

Altering Stem Cell Perception of Tissue Stiffness May Help Treat Musculoskeletal Disorders

Via HealthCanal | August 30, 2016

PHILADELPHIA – A new biomaterial can be used to study how and when stem cells sense the mechanics of their surrounding environment, found a team led by Robert Mauck, PhD, the Mary Black Ralston Professor for Education and Research in Orthopaedic Surgery, in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. With further development, this biomaterial could be used to control when immature stem cells differentiate into more specialized cells for regenerative and tissue-engineering-based therapies. Their study appears as an advance online publication in Nature Materials this month. 

During early development in an embryo, the progenitor cells of many types of musculoskeletal tissue start out in close contact to each other and over time transition into an organized network of individual cells surrounded by an extracellular matrix. Throughout the course of embryo development, the it gets stiffer due to increased amounts of matrix material and crosslinking during early development in an embryo, the progenitor cells of many types of musculoskeletal tissue start out in close contact to each other and over time transition into an organized network of individual cells surrounded by an extracellular matrix (ECM). This matrix is made up of polysaccharides and fibrous proteins secreted by cells, providing structural and biochemical support to the cells within.

Throughout the course of embryo development, the ECM gets stiffer due to increased amounts of matrix material and crosslinking, eventually guiding stem cells to develop into more specialized cells across various tissue types. It also acts as a medium through which mechanical information is transmitted to cells (such as forces generated with such normal activities as walking or running).

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Penn Scientist Given Prestigious Award for Young Orthopaedic Researchers

Via Penn Medicine | March 26, 2015

LAS VEGAS — Robert L. Mauck, PhD, an associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of four scientists given awards by the Kappa Delta Sorority and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in Las Vegas. Awardees are chosen for their outstanding basic science and clinical research related to musculoskeletal disease or injury, with the ultimate goal of advancing patient treatment and care. Each award carries a $20,000 stipend.

 

Mauck received the 2015 Kappa Delta Young Investigator Award for his research on developing and optimizing nanofibrous scaffolds — extremely small, bioengineered materials — to repair or replace complex connective tissues, such as those that make up the meniscus of the knee joint or the intervertebral disc of the spinal column.

“This is quite an honor, given the number of fantastic scientists and research teams that have won this award in the past,” said Mauck. “It is really a reflection of many years of hard work by all of the great people who have worked with me over to develop novel regenerative approaches to solve the difficult problem of dense connective tissue repair.”

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Grow Fresh Cartilage from Adult Stem Cells

Via Futurity | June 7, 2013

Bioengineers are a step closer to growing new cartilage from a patient’s own stem cells.

Cartilage injuries are difficult to repair. Current surgical options generally involve taking a piece from another part of the injured joint and patching over the damaged area, but this approach involves damaging healthy cartilage, and a person’s cartilage may still deteriorate with age.

“The broad picture is trying to develop new therapies to replace cartilage tissue, starting with focal defects—things like sports injuries—and then hopefully moving toward surface replacement for cartilage degradation that comes with aging,” says Jason Burdick, associate professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. “Here, we’re trying to figure out the right environment for adult stem cells to produce the best cartilage.”

“As we age, the health and vitality of cartilage cells declines,” says Robert Mauck, associate professor of orthopedic surgery, “so the efficacy of any repair with adult chondrocytes is actually quite low.  Stem cells, which retain this vital capacity, are therefore ideal.”

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Penn Research Shows Way to Improve Stem Cells’ Cartilage Formation

Via University of Pennsylvania | June 3, 2013

Cartilage injuries are difficult to repair. Current surgical options generally involve taking a piece from another part of the injured joint and patching over the damaged area, but this approach involves damaging healthy cartilage, and a person’s cartilage may still deteriorate with age.

Bioengineers are interested in finding innovative ways to grow new cartilage from a patient’s own stem cells, and, thanks to a new study from the University of Pennsylvania, such a treatment is a step closer to reality.  

The research was conducted by associate professor Jason Burdick of the Department of Bioengineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and associate professor Robert Mauck of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Liming Bian and Murat Guvendiren, members of Burdick’s lab, also took part.

It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“The broad picture,” Burdick said, “is trying to develop new therapies to replace cartilage tissue, starting with focal defects — things like sports injuries — and then hopefully moving toward surface replacement for cartilage degradation that comes with aging. Here, we’re trying to figure out the right environment for adult stem cells to produce the best cartilage.”    

“As we age, the health and vitality of cartilage cells declines,” Mauck said, “so the efficacy of any repair with adult chondrocytes is actually quite low. Stem cells, which retain this vital capacity, are therefore ideal.”

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Composite Nanofibers Developed by Penn Scientists Next Chapter in Orthopaedic Biomaterials

Via Penn Medicine | August 7, 2012

Bioengineered replacements for tendons, ligaments, the meniscus of the knee, and other tissues require re-creation of the exquisite architecture of these tissues in three dimensions. These fibrous, collagen-based tissues located throughout the body have an ordered structure that gives them their robust ability to bear extreme mechanical loading.

Many labs have been designing treatments for ACL and meniscus tears of the knee, rotator cuff injuries, and Achilles tendon ruptures for patients ranging from the weekend warrior to the elite Olympian. One popular approach has involved the use of scaffolds made from nano-sized fibers, which can guide tissue to grow in an organized way. Unfortunately, the fibers’ widespread application in orthopaedics has been slowed because cells do not readily colonize the scaffolds if fibers are too tightly packed.

Robert L. Mauck, PhD, professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering, and Brendon M. Baker, PhD, previously a graduate student in the Mauck lab at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, have developed and validated a new technology in which composite nanofibrous scaffolds provide a loose enough structure for cells to colonize without impediment, but still can instruct cells how to lay down new tissue. Their findings appear online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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