Flexible bioelectronics (BioFlex) is an emerging area with broad implications in advancing basic life sciences and providing much needed tools in many clinical applications. One of the key application areas of flexible biomedical systems is in chronic wound management.
Intellectual Merit: The proposed project aims to revolutionize wound treatment by utilizing advances in flexible polymeric MEMS, sensors, biomaterials, tissue engineering, microsystems technology, and microelectronics through the development of the Bio-Flex Smart-Dressing platform. The smart-dressing consists of a flexible/stretchable platform with embedded electronics and an array of physical, chemical, and biological modules capable of sensing (physical and chemical) and active intervention (biological, chemical, and physical) in wound microenvironment. This platform brings together several treatment and monitoring modalities on a conformal flexible substrate. More specifically, during the course of the proposed research, PDMS/Parylene/Hydrogel composite substrate/platform which forms the base for the integration of various modules will be developed. This will be followed by the design of physical, chemical and actuation (electrical, mechanical, and chemical) modules, and microfluidic drug delivery modules their integration onto the smart dressing platform to stimulate and expedite wound healing processes. Furthermore, the incorporation of integrated electronics enables stimulation, sensing, communication and RF energy scavenging for long-term use.
Broader Impacts: The developed platform will have a broader impact to the biomedical community at large. The BioFlex platform for management of chronic wounds will be of immense benefit to a growing elderly population with high susceptibility to wounds due to falls, returning war veterans exposed to serious burns, athletes with sports related injuries, and diabetics with poor healing response. The technologies developed during this effort will also have impact in other applications where a close integration of electronics and targeted drug delivery with tissue is necessary in order to achieve favorable therapeutic and rehabilitative outcomes. These include interfaces for central and peripheral nervous systems, drug delivery platforms for hollow organs, and integrated biotic-abiotic diagnostic microsystems. In the education and outreach area, in addition to training graduate students, undergraduate students will be involved in research programs through (1) Tufts Summer Scholars Program (2) Purdue's Discovery Learning Research Center (DLRC) Internships, (3) MIT's Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) and (4) NSF REU Program. Targeted recruitment and retention of engineering/science students with emphasis on women, underrepresented minorities, persons with disabilities, and first-generation college students through programs at respective institutions will be carried out. Specifically, Purdue University's Lafayette area school partnership, Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program (STOMP) for K-12 education, MIT MSRP for underrepresented minorities and women for summer research and Bridge to Engineering Success at Tufts will be targeted as part of the educational outreach activities. Multi-institutional multi-disciplinary web-based open courseware in the area of tissue engineering and BioMEMS will be developed. International outreach efforts will focus on exchanging ideas and samples for the development and use of this developed technology in other medical applications. Research results will be widely disseminated through web media and print publications and disseminated broadly through Museum of Science, Boston.