The research objective of this Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program award is to create the next-generation hybrid biofabrication science and technology to bioprint vascularized engineered pancreatic endocrine tissues for diabetes management. This evolving paradigm in hybrid bioprinting will be accomplished by the following research thrusts: 1) direct bioprinting of perfusable vasculature, 2) direct bioprinting of scaffold-free insulin-producing cell aggregate strands using an efficient and practical approach for scale-up tissue fabrication, 3) hybrid bioprinting of insulin-producing cell aggregate strands in tandem with vasculature using a unique Multi-Arm BioPrinter, and 4) in vivo validation of the formation and effectiveness of pancreatic endocrine tissues. The educational goal is to inspire students and to engage a life-long interest in biomanufacturing. This will be accomplished by organizing demonstrations, laboratory tours and summer schools for underrepresented K-6 students and minority groups, organizing workshops for newly enrolled honor students, and integrating biomanufacturing into the undergraduate curriculum.
The fundamental research in this study will have a direct impact on the bioprinting of glucose-sensitive pancreatic tissues. It will benefit society in the form of an alternative solution to managing diabetes, which, due to its devastating nature, contributes to other mortal diseases such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease and amputation. This project has the potential to make significant progress in organ printing technology that will eventually be applied to other organs and drastically reduce the demand for organ transplantation and the need for animal testing. Educational initiatives will broaden the participation of minority and underrepresented groups, especially female Amish and Mennonite students. The research results will be disseminated through publications in high-quality venues as well as media coverage to reach out to strategically targeted local, national and global audiences.