Featured M.D./Ph.D. Student at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering: Shaun W. McLaughlin

Shaun W. McLaughlinShaun is a third-year M.D./Ph.D. student doing his Ph.D. thesis in my laboratory at the Institute for Regenerative Engineering. Prior to coming to UConn, Shaun worked with me at the University of Virginia where his main research focus was using hydrogels to delivery bioactive molecules that aid in bone regeneration. He also has worked in the private sector conducting novel bio-implant and tissue engineering research. Specifically his research focused on the development of an artificial ACL ligament using three-dimensional braided microfibers as well as osteo-differentiation using a laser-guided surface-etching technique on titanium implants.

Since entering his Ph.D. phase at UConn, he has been shifting his research focus to skeletal muscle regenerative engineering. “I’m very interested in using a progenitor cell located in skeletal muscle known as the satellite stem cell to aid in regeneration of skeletal muscle. I hope that, by providing a scaffold that can aid in cellular alignment and differentiation of skeletal muscle stem cells, I’ll accomplish this goal.” The scaffold he uses in his research will be fabricated using a technique known as electrospinning. I was one of the pioneers of implementing electrospinning for tissue engineering. By modifying this technique, he will generate highly aligned (parallel) nanofibers which provide cues for satellite cells to undergo alignment and subsequent fusion into more mature myotubes which is necessary for adult skeletal muscle formation.

I am very proud to have Shaun as a student. He is an ambitious young man who wants to enter the fields of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering, much as I have. His ultimate goal is to become a physician-scientist, setting up his own research laboratory. He hopes to develop state-of-the-art biomaterials and implant them into patients. Outside of the laboratory and classroom, Shaun enjoys triathlons, playing ice hockey, mountain climbing, and anything outdoors.