Driving Collagen Fiber Formation for Functional Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering: Going beyond the Fibril

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:00pm
The FUNG Auditorium
Jennifer Puetzer


Whitaker International Postdoctoral Fellow

Departments of Materials and Bioengineering

Imperial College London

Driving Collagen Fiber Formation for Functional Musculoskeletal Tissue Engineering: Going beyond the Fibril


Collagen fibers are the primary source of strength in tissues, particularly orthopaedic tissues. Musculoskeletal menisci, tendons, and ligaments have a complex collagen organization, which translate loads in a demanding mechanical environment. Injuries which disrupt this organization result in pain, mechanical instability, and over 1,350,000 surgeries a year in the US. Tissue engineers are striving to create replacements of these tissues; however these attempts often fail to create organized collagen fibers, essential to long-term mechanical success.  In this talk, I will present my research on developing some of the most organized anatomical meniscal replacements to date.  I will discuss how the application of physiological mechanical stimulation and high density collagen gels can be used to drive development of native-sized and aligned collagen fibers. The resulting meniscal constructs feature zonal biochemical composition and anisotropic mechanical properties that resemble native tissues.  Further, I will discuss the development of a culture system which drives cells to develop 20-40 µm diameter collagen fibers across multiple musculoskeletal tissues, providing insight into how cells have intrinsic differences in fiber regulation. This culture system produces the largest collagen fibers developed to date in musculoskeletal constructs and provides a platform to move toward producing clinically relevant, functional tissue replacements with native collagen organization and strength.


Jenny Puetzer is a Whitaker International Postdoctoral Fellow in the group of Professor Molly Stevens in the Departments of Materials and Bioengineering at Imperial College London.  She is an orthopaedic tissue engineer developing tissues for osteochondral, tendon, and meniscal replacement, with emphasis on the underlying collagen organization.  Additionally, she is a member of the UK Regenerative Medicine Acellular Materials Hub, collaborating with researchers from across the UK to develop materials that guide cells to regenerate tissues throughout the body.  She completed her undergraduate education in Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University, where she investigated chondrogenesis of human adipose and bone marrow derived stem cells. In 2014, Jenny received her PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Cornell University as an NSF graduate research fellow. Her research focused on engineering anatomical meniscal constructs with native-like collagen organization. She has been recognized for her teaching as a HHMI Junior Scientist and NSF GK-12 Scholar. Further, her contributions to the field of tissue engineering have been recognized through selection for the Tissue Engineering Young Investigator Council in 2014 and the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine Young Investigator Award in 2015.