Doctoral Dissertations

Orcid ID

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Comparative and Experimental Medicine

Major Professor

David E. Anderson

Committee Members

Madhu Dhar, Pierre-Yves Mulon, Dustin L. Crouch, Stacy M. Stephenson


Biomaterial applications in the biomedical field have resulted in great advancements in the availability and efficacy of medical devices and therapeutic options for a host of conditions. Applications of biomaterials span all organ systems and tissue types, and have served a range of purposes including mechanical support, drug delivery, tissue regeneration, and reduction of surgical complications. Biomaterials are delineated by their ability to be utilized on or within the body with minimal-to-no adverse reaction and can be manipulated to feature various structures, degradative properties, topographies, and inclusion of bioactive substances or drugs. Soft tissue applications of biomaterials is an expansive area with a vast array of promising devices, and this document serves to provide a brief overview of some of these materials, along with their constituents, manipulations, and applications. The gastrointestinal and peripheral nervous systems are highlighted as individual research projects pertaining to these body systems follow the initial review. In the research project-vein, first is described the conceptualization of a novel anastomotic guide for utilization in end-to-end small intestinal anastomosis, along with an ex vivo experimental phase and initial in vivo application of the device in a swine model. Successful results of this study led to a follow-up in vivo project with a second-generation anastomotic guide, which is described thereafter. Results of this study suggest that the anastomotic guide may be useful for refinement of the surgical procedure. The discussion then transitions to an evaluation of a peripheral nerve scaffold for utilization in peripheral neuropathic disorders and injury sites. This study focused on conceptualization, fabrication, and in vitro evaluation of poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid and graphene oxide composites for the proposed nerve scaffold, along with development of a growth factor-eluting hydrogel adjunct. The collective research performed in these studies exemplifies the magnitude of possibilities for biomaterial uses in soft tissue applications.

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