Meet Research Fellow, Dr Johnson Chung.
What is your role?
I am a Research Fellow. My role involves the management of bioprinters, and projects associated with 3D bioprinting. As these bioinks are synthesised for specific applications it is important to determine printability, biocompatibility and functionality.
I am also responsible for documenting the printing protocol and providing training on the range of 3D bioprinters we have available.
What is your area of expertise and what kind of experience do you have in this area?
I am a biomedical engineer with a background in materials science. My area of expertise is in bioprinting and ink development. I have experience in biofabrication techniques (extrusion, inkjet, microvalve, melt-electro writing) and a range of physical and biological assays.
I also have experience in translating laboratory research into a clinical environment, ensuring that the end-user can successfully fabricate their desired scaffold/device based on the protocols I have provided.
I have assisted with the establishment of 3D Bioprinting capabilities at the Sydney Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPA).
What are some of the projects and collaborations you are currently working on?
I am currently involved in a project with collaborator Dr Payal Mukherjee from RPA, looking at bioprinting an ear scaffold for treating patients with microtia. From this project, we have further established collaboration with AMTZ in India on prosthetic ear implants.
In addition, with our international collaborations from NCTU (National Chiao-Tung University) in Taiwan, we have been developing a customised microvalve printing system for pattern human retinal cells to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
What is the future outlook of these projects?
Currently, we are in the process of transferring a customised bioprinter designed to print scaffolds made from hydrogel and stem cells to RPA for further research and larger animal trials. The knowledge that benefited from this translation can help accelerate other customised printers we have developed with our collaborators.
How is this work being translated into real applications?
Microtia is the most common ear malformation in the head and neck with an incidence of about 1-4 per 10,000 births. Cancer resections and traumatic injuries may also leave the ear deformed. In Australia, this is a particularly troublesome problem due to the higher incidence of metastatic skin cancer to the region. Cartilage does not self-regenerate and the healing process results in fibrocartilage formation. A scaffold for cartilage regeneration not only needs to be mechanically robust, but also biologically active.
This project can address these challenges and have an immediate impact on the way stem cell-based scaffolds are fabricated.