Date of Award

Summer 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

David Mills


Biomaterials are used as templates for drug delivery, scaffolds in tissue engineering, grafts in surgeries, and support for tissue regeneration. Novel biomaterial composites are needed to meet multifaceted requirements of compatibility, ease of fabrication and controlled drug delivery. Currently used biomaterials in orthopedics surgeries suffer limitations in toxicity and preventing infections. Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) used as bone cement suffers from limitations of thermal necrosis and monomer toxicity calls for development of better cementing biomaterials. A biodegradable/bioresorbable cement with good mechanical properties is needed to address this short coming. Metal implants used in fixing fractures or total joint replacement needs improvements in preventing biofilm formation and better tissue integration.

This research addressed the above mentioned research gaps by formulating novel biomaterial composites. Calcium phosphate cements are the alternative bone cements that are bioresorbable and promote tissue integration. These cements lack sufficient mechanical strengths to be used in load bearing sites. The addition of nanoparticles is hypothesized to improve the mechanical properties without inducing toxicity to the tissue. This hypothesis was tested by evaluating compression and flexural strengths in addition to cytocompatibility tests. Results indicate that addition of nano-clay particles (halloysites nanotubes) improved the compressive strength and osteoinductive properties of calcium phosphate cements.

To address the research need of preventing implant failure due to infection and aseptic loosening, novel coatings are needed. Hydrogels are well establish for their ability to mimic in vivo environment, promote cell viability and as drug delivery vehicles. Use of composites of hydrogels and drug-loaded nanoparticles to prevent infection was evaluated. Cytocompatibility results indicate good cell viability. Antibacterial results show sustained release of antibiotics from composite hydrogels and good zones of inhibition on agar plates inoculated with bacterial cultures.

Fabricating a complex three-dimensional (3D) scaffold for tissue engineering was a huge challenge. With advancements in additive manufacturing, this research gap was addressed. Methods are needed to fabricate patient specific grafts made from biocompatible biomaterials. In this research, 3D printing was used as a platform to explore new biomaterials as grafts or scaffolds for tissue engineering. Computerized tomography scans were used to fabricate patient-specific grafts. The use of calcium cements to fabricate three-dimensionally complex scaffold or grafts reported in this research holds potential in personalized medicine.