Laboratory of Laura A. Smith Callahan, Ph.D.

The Smith Callahan Laboratory focuses on the developing tissue engineering approaches (FIGURE 1) toward clinical treatments for spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and cartilage defects using an interdisciplinary approach involving techniques from cell, molecular, and stem cell biology, chemistry, and material science. Utilizing engineering approaches, the laboratory seeks to optimize scaffold design and the expansion of clinically relevant cell sources.

Figure 1: Schematic of tissue engineering approach using a hybrid scaffold to facilitate de novo tissue formation.

Schematic of tissue engineering

Current Projects

  1. Development of multi-component scaffolds to facilitate tissue regeneration through better replication of the native extracellular matrix.
  2. Optimization of culture surfaces for the differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells to neural stem cells and oligodendrocyte progenitor cells.
  3. Identification of optimal artificial matrix properties such as bioactive signaling moiety concentration or mechanical properties using combinatorial approaches.
  4. Synthesis of novel biomaterials for spinal cord, brain, and vertebral disk repair.

Dr. Laura A. Smith Callahan

An Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, Dr. Smith Callahan earned her doctorate in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan, where her work under focused on the effects of nanofibrous scaffolding on the osteogenic differentiation of embryonic stem cells. Upon completion of her thesis, she was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship on the Regenerative Science T90 training grant which allowed her to further study the effects of nanofibrous scaffolding on the neural differentiation of embryonic stem cells. To obtain additional training in peptide and polymer chemistry and soft material characterization, Dr. Smith Callahan transitioned to a post-doctoral position at the Institute of Polymer Science at the University of Akron with Matthew L. Becker. At the University of Akron, her work focused on the effects of bioactive peptides and gradient hydrogels on stem cell differentiation to mesenchymal and neuronal lineages.