Biomaterials for the Early Detection and Treatment of Disease

In this talk, I will present two different stories that illustrate the power of biomaterials in clinical applications. The first addresses a major challenge in developing surgical solutions for children with congenital heart disease. Current solutions involve multiple staged surgeries because the implants do not grow with the child. We have developed several methods to generate a layered tissue patch that mimics the cellular organization of native vessels and a bioMEMS device that can be used to assess physiological function of these tissue-engineered constructs with patient data input. The second story addresses our efforts to detect and prevent surgical adhesions, bands of tissue arising from abdominal surgeries that can lead to small bowel obstruction and infertility. The annual cost of adhesion-related complications to the US healthcare system is estimated to be as high as $5 billion. We have developed a novel formulation of ultrasound contrast agents that are stable for up to 4 days and target components found during the initial stage of adhesion formation.

Dr. Joyce Y. Wong is a Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering, and a College of Engineering Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Boston University. Her research is in the area of developing biomaterials for the early detection and treatment of disease. Some of her projects include bioengineered patches for congenital heart defects in pediatric patients and targeted ultrasound theranostic agents to treat abdominal surgical adhesions and nanoparticle magnetic resonance imaging contrast agents for early detection of cardiovascular disease and cancer. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications, 11 pending or issued patents, and has mentored over 100 trainees. In 2017 she received the Charles DeLisi Distinguished Lecture and Award, the highest honor in Boston University’s College of Engineering. Dr. Wong is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES). She is Associate Editor of the Journal of Biomedical Materials (Institute of Physics). She is the Inaugural Director of a Boston University Provost Initiative promoting women in STEM at all levels: ARROWS (Advance, Recruit, Retain & Organize Women in STEM) and in 2018 received the Advocate of the Year AWARD from BU GWISE (Graduate Women in Science and Engineering).