May 19, 2014
The award is given to an individual who demonstrates exceptional accomplishments in the field of biomaterials research within 10 years following his or her Ph.D. completion.
“This reward is very much a reflection of the excellent trainees I’ve had at Illinois whose hard work helped make this possible as well as my colleagues who served as mentors along the way,” Harley said.
He said he is excited to have his research acknowledged. “It is very gratifying to know that the research that we have done in my group over the past five years was recognized.”
For decades scientists, engineers, and physicians have worked to better understand the onset and progression of disease, to prevent further damage after injury, and to develop approaches to enhance healing and recovery. A critical bottleneck in this process is the complexity that arises because of the non-uniform properties of the tissues and organs within the human body.
Harley’s team has focused on pioneering approaches to create biomaterials that replicate the form and function of inhomogeneous structures in the body. They have developed new classes of biomaterials using bio-inspired design principles – mimicking structures found in porcupine quills and the sutures between plates of armored fish exoskeletons – that are being tested for regenerative repair of orthopedic tissuers such as tendon and bone insertions. They are also creating biomaterial platforms via microfluidics that can be used to as an artificial bone marrow to study the process of hematopoiesis and bone marrow failure and as a scalable model of the tumor microenvironment to help develop new treatments for glioma.
“These efforts have concentrated on developing new approaches to engineer biomaterials at the structural, mechanical, and biomolecular level,” Harley said. “Such biomaterials offer a platform to explore the impact of the tissue environment on the behavior of cells in the context of development, disease, and repair. They also offer promise as materials to be implanted into the body to speed recovery after injury.”