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Engineering tissue specific scaffolds for organ-on-a-chip models

Pharmaceutical R&D is extremely costly since it depends on animal models for pre-clinical approval. Nonetheless, they still fail to recapitulate human physiopathology. Thus, Organ-on-a-Chip (OOC) systems were created as a future alternative since these are microfluidic systems that mimic the architecture and function of an in vivo organ environment.

One of the challenges for the validation of OOCs is the optimisation of the system’s scaffold, a key component since it emulates the structural framework of the cellular environment. State-of-art scaffolds within this area have been proven to not be improved, which can lead to unreliable data results. In this project, we aim to optimise and standardise scaffolds for in-house OOC systems, through the creation and assessment of different materials and manufacturing techniques so that the OOC technology can be validated as an alternative pre-clinical model to animals within the research industry.

Within this project electrospinning and 3D printing will be used to produce scaffolds of varying architecture with different hydrogels to optimise parameters for different cell types.

Meet the Principal Investigator(s) for the project

Dr. Ruth Mackay
Dr. Ruth Mackay - Dr Mackay is a Mechanical Engineer with a particular interest within the biomedical field.  She gained her undergraduate degree from the University of Dundee in 2007 in Mechnical Engineering.  This was followed by a her PhD Micro-electromechanical-systems in 2011, also at the University of Dundee, funded by a CASE grant from the EPSRC with IDB Technologies.  She moved to Brunel in 2011 to work as a Research Fellow on a tanslational MRC grant developing point of care devices.  She became a lecturer at Brunel in 2015. Her research focuses on organ-on-a-chip tecnologies for women's health, low cost point of care diagnostic devices and prosthetics. She teaches within the areas of Finite Element Analysis and Medical Device Engineering.
Dr Elisabete Silva
Dr Elisabete Silva -

Related Research Group(s)

Electro-discharge machining

Non-traditional Manufacturing Technologies - Development, application, and implementation of non-traditional manufacturing technologies: electro-discharge machining, electrochemical machining, laser technologies, vibration machining of brittle materials, abrasive flow machining, electroforming, diamond machining, ultrasonic machining and many more.


Organ-on-a-Chip - The group’s main research focus is on women’s health and developing four main organ-on-a-chip (OOC) models: the breast, vagina, ovary, and placenta.

Partnering with confidence

Organisations interested in our research can partner with us with confidence backed by an external and independent benchmark: The Knowledge Exchange Framework. Read more.

Project last modified 21/11/2023