Laura read Natural Sciences (BA MSci) at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge from 2008-2012, and specialised in Materials Science in the third and fourth years. She first worked in CCMM during her Masters project, under the supervision of Prof Serena Best and Dr Rob Friederichs. She synthesised silicate and carbonate co-substituted hydroxyapatites, verifying phase purity by X-ray diffractometry, and studied the effect of heat treatment/sintering temperature on hardness and bone biocompatibility, as indicated by a Simulated Body Fluid (SBF) immersion test.
Techniques: XRD, FTIR, ICP-AES, SEM, Vickers hardness testing
During her undergraduate degree, Laura also worked in the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride, also in the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy. Here, she investigated etching processes for manufacture of rolled-up nitride nanotubes under the supervision of Dr Rachel Oliver and Dr Tom Sadler, funded by the Nuffield Foundation.
Techniques: AFM, SEM, semiconductor etching.
Laura’s current research is on the osteogenic (bone-regenerating) potential of poly(caprolactone-co-lactone) copolymers. Materials provided by InnovaBone, an EU Framework 7 project, are characterised by the response of primary human osteoprogenitor cells, cultured over periods of 14-28 days. Cell morphology and metabolic activity, differentiation to osteoblast phenotype, and collagen synthesis and mineralisation are measured as indicators of osteogenic potential. She is funded by EPSRC.
Techniques: Human cell culture, primary cell isolation, immunocytochemistry, ELISA, dot blotting.
Future work will involve tailoring the surface properties of poly(caprolactone-co-lactide) copolymers of varying composition through surface modification processes for optimal cell response. The interaction between the surface of a biomaterial and a cell is complex; cells do not perceive the raw biomaterial surface, but rather a surface modified by adsorbed matrix proteins, which contain ligands which receptors on the cell can bind to. Biomaterial surface chemistry and morphology influences these adsorption processes, and so indirectly the response of the cell. Good cell response here leads to the formation of new bone; this entails adhesion and spreading of the cell across the biomaterial surface, followed by differentiation to osteoblast phenotype and eventual collagen matrix production and mineralisation.