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Matls 701/702: Guest Speaker - Dr. Kyla Sask

Matls 701/702: Guest Speaker - Dr. Kyla Sask

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JHE A102

Engineered surfaces for characterizing and modulating protein and cell interactions with biomaterials


When materials contact biological fluids such as blood, protein adsorption occurs rapidly and influences subsequent cell interactions. This can result in biofouling of materials and for medical devices, including catheters, stents and vascular grafts, can be determinantal to the device function due to thrombosis (blood clotting), inflammation and infection. Chemical, biological, and physical surface modification strategies can be implemented to better control protein and cell interactions with materials and improve device design. Polymers such as polyethylene oxide have been explored to reduce non-specific protein adsorption and to attach anticoagulant and other bioactive agents. Surface modulus and topography are known to influence cell adhesion and activation and micro- and nano-structured materials of varying stiffnesses are being used to study protein adsorption and relate this to cell response. Characterization of a material’s surface properties is critical and various techniques are implemented to evaluate modifications. This seminar will highlight previous work on bioactive surface modification strategies, recent work with biodegradable polymers and macrophage response, and future work continuing investigations with nano-patterning to create multifunctional materials.

Kyla Sask joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at McMaster University as an Assistant Professor in September 2019. She obtained her B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from Queen’s University in 2006 and her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at McMaster University in 2012. Her Ph.D research was supervised by Dr. John Brash (Chemical Engineering) and Dr. Anthony Chan (Pediatrics), and focused on the development of antithrombogenic biomaterials. Dr. Sask worked at Interface Biologics Inc. (IBI) for several years as a Research Engineer. IBI is a commercial stage company that develops innovative materials for improving the efficacy of medical devices and targeted delivery of drugs. Dr. Sask recently completed a postdoctoral research fellow in Dr. Brian Amsden’s Advanced Biomaterials Laboratory at Queen’s University. Her research interests are in biomaterials, surface modification and characterization, protein and cell interactions, nanostructured materials, biofouling and blood contacting devices.