Injectable, cell-degradable scaffolds for bone tissue engineering

Injecting into tissue

Injectable scaffolds for bone tissue engineering that are selectively degraded by cell-generated signals like reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Diagram of the scaffolds

In clinical settings, large-scale bone defects resulting from trauma or birth defects are often repaired by autografts, or bone tissue harvested from the patient’s own body. Due to the limited amount of harvestable bone per patient and significant injury resulting from the harvesting procedure, recent research efforts have sought to develop “off-the-shelf” bone substitutes that can be injected into an injury site and regenerate healthy bone tissue before biodegrading. The most promising recent efforts in this area have created injectable composite materials with both bone-friendly ceramic components and pliable, strong degradable polymers to provide mechanical strength before biodegrading. Unfortunately, the polymer component of these composites non-specifically degrades in water and can prematurely fail before full tissue healing is achieved. For this proposed project, the Protégé Scholar will be heavily involved in the development of a new injectable bone scaffold that is selectively degraded by cellular activity. The Protégé Scholar will be in charge of characterizing these new composites for their degradability, time to hardening after injection, mechanical strength, and cellular toxicity in preparation for future pre-clinical testing in more complex biological models


Headshot of John Robert Martin

John Robert Martin

Assistant Professor, CEAS - Biomedical Eng

842 Engineering Research Cntr


John R. Martin is an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Martin completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Kentucky where he majored in Biosystems Engineering before obtaining a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University investigating cell-degradable tissue engineering scaffolds. Following his doctoral work, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Department of Chemical Engineering where he researched drug delivery systems for the regeneration of craniofacial bone tissue.
Dr. Martin leads the Bioresponsive Materials Lab at UC, exploring “smart” biomaterial systems that leverage precise cell-generated signals (including reactive oxygen species and enzymatic activity) to activate biomaterial functionality and guide tissue regeneration. This interdisciplinary research integrates polymer science and materials engineering alongside pharmacology and biology to build new systems for regenerating orthopedic injuries in the clinic.