What is your field of medical research?
My main interest lies in tissue engineering, where I can apply principles in engineering, cell biology and immunology that can repair and restore tissue function. I am intrigued by how the bodily tissues function in nature and recapitulate some of those aspects in implantable devices to improve their post-surgical performance.
Why is your research in Pelvic Organ Prolapse needed?
Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is an extremely debilitating condition that significantly impairs the physical and mental well being of women. There is no cure and it only gets worse with age. The symptoms greatly reduced the quality of life. It affects millions of women around the world due to injuries from childbirth. Many women suffer in silence and often have to undergo multiple operations, due to lack of effective treatments available. A one step, safe and effective treatments are urgently required.
Can you tell us about a project you’re working on at the moment?
I am using nanotechnology and 3D printing to design better degradable surgical constructs for POP treatment. I am also bioengineering these with highly regenerative stem cells derived from women’s uterus to improve their acceptability in the body. I have designed a unique bioink, that can bioprint these cells on the degradable nanomeshes to reduce the undesirable immune response and improve their integration after they have been implanted in the body. This way, we aim to overcome some of the main challenges currently faced.
How do you see your research impacting the field?
Millions of women suffer from the consequences of injuries incurred during childbirth. It may happen soon after giving birth or decades later. To have a therapy or surgical treatment that has the potential to cure POP, would mean that more women can get back to normal life with confidence. It will also reduced healthcare expenses, fewer doctors’ visits and independence during old age.
What excites you about your research?
It is quite exciting to be part of the POP research team, particularly because of its interdisciplinary nature. We get to work alongside clinicians, cell biologists and engineers. We also welcome PhD students from diverse disciplines, experience and backgrounds. Everyday we learn so much from each other and I feel it is extremely fulfilling to be part of a project like this, where everyone is dedicated to making a difference to women with POP.