ESR 11 – Antibacterial Materials for Tissue Engineering Scaffolds

Sheila Piarali – University of Westminster and Universitätsklinikum Knappschaftskrankenhaus Bochum GmbH

The Project:  This research project is to develop “drug-free” antibacterial materials based on the combination of biopolymers and novel antibacterial agents for tissue engineering applications.  It is divided into two parts.  In the first part, the work will be carried out at the University of Westminster, London, where polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), biocompatible and biodegradable polymers, will be produced through bacterial fermentation.  In addition, novel antibacterial agents such as antimicrobial peptides will be isolated and characterised with respect to their antibacterial properties.

The second part of the work will be performed in the Universitätsklinikum Knappschaftskrankenhaus Bochum, where the selected antibacterial agents will be used as an additive to PHAs, which in turn will be processed to form 2D and 3D tissue engineering scaffold structures and assessed for their use in various biomedical applications, thereby promising a new family of antibacterial materials.

The Researcher:  Sheila Piarali from Lisbon, Portugal obtained her Bachelor degree in Biochemistry at the University Nova de Lisboa in the Faculty of Science and Technology.  Due to her interest in genetics she did her Bachelor project on this area, more specifically she studied the effect of cofactors in polymerisation reactions carried out by the enzyme Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase (TdT).  Then she began her Master degree in Biotechnology in the same faculty.  For her Master thesis she decided to focus on Systems Biology and in this case her aim was to develop process control strategies, namely medium optimisation for MDCK suspension cells.  During this period she was able to do part of her thesis in Magdeburg, Germany at the Max Planck Institution for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems.

Besides academic life, Sheila is a football lover and she is a strong supporter of Sporting Clube de Portugal.  Other of her interests include tennis, music, cinema and cooking.

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