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Kyle Alberti
Biomedical Engineering

I'm originally from Buffalo, NY and I attended Syracuse University where I received a BS in Biomedical Engineering in 2011. I received my Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering under the guidance of Prof. Qiaobing Xu at Tufts University in August 2015. My research interests include tissue engineering, drug delivery and bioinspired fabrication.

IGERT Research
Soft robotics provides the ability to mimic natural structures that are otherwise unavailable to more traditional robotics. My current work with natural materials involves the development of a sectioning-based fabrication technique, called bioskiving. While traditional fabrication techniques often destroy the native structure of biomaterials, bioskiving allows that native structure to be preserved. The biomaterial I use most in my work is decellularized tendon, which contains a highly ordered hierarchical arrangement of collagen nanofibrils and fiber; these provide nanotoporaphical guidance cues along with substantial mechanical strength. I have explored the mechanical and biological properties of this material and have applied it to promoting peripheral nerve growth and regeneration. Further research will involve the development of bio-actuated muscles using this material as a substrate for muscle cell growth, and could potentially be combined with work on guided neuronal growth to generate soft robotic structures.

PhD Dissertation
Bioskiving: Tendon-derived Scaffolds for Biomedical Applications

I presented my research on the development of a technique called Bioskiving, a method that directly utilizes the intricate structures of tendon tissue for biomedical applications. This bioskiving process was applied to tendon tissue in order to capitalize on the mechanical and biological properties of the hierarchical and well-ordered collagen structures found within tendon tissue. My hypothesis was that this sectioning-based technique allows the internal structures of tendon tissue to be preserved, even when creating thin, flexible sheets that can be formed into desired shapes. I described the progression of my work through the development of the processing technique and creation of scaffolds – which involves decellularization, sectioning, and stacking and rolling – to create two- and three-dimensional scaffolds. I characterized the mechanical properties of the resultant material, and then I tuned those mechanical properties, using crosslinking to achieve a 20-fold increase in mechanical strength and transverse isotropy. I evaluated the biological properties of the material, including the degree of degradation both in vitro and in vivo; and I assessed the interaction of the material with platelets. I then explored the potential application of constructs comprised of this material in peripheral nerve repair. This material’s potential for nerve repair was evaluated in vitro using Schwann cells and chick dorsal root ganglia explants, and in vivo using a rat sciatic nerve defect model. The tendon-derived material proved to be a suitable substrate for promoting peripheral nerve repair that is both biocompatible and biodegradable. Its mechanical properties can be tuned and the geometry of its structures created can be altered, allowing other researchers to find uses for it in other biomedical applications.

What Kyle is up to now
I am now working at Aeroqual Ltd, located in Auckland, New Zealand, working on developing air quality monitoring equipment and low cost sensor technologies. My work email is kyle.alberti@aeroqual.com.

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