Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Gudrun Schmidt

Committee Chair

Gudrun Schmidt

Committee Member 1

Sherry L. Voytik-Harbin

Committee Member 2

Kinam Park


Vocal folds are made of an elastomeric tissue and are essential to everyday life, allowing for communication. Approximately 28 million individuals have paralysis or scarring of the vocal folds mostly due to injury or systemic diseases. Symptoms may include voice hoarseness or fatigue. Healthy vocal folds consist of distinct layers of soft tissue. We are designing hydrogels with properties similar to these healthy tissues. The hydrogels are envisioned to be used as injectable and degradable tissue matrices that allow for repair and regeneration of the vocal folds. ^ We present the synthesis of a robust and degradable hydrogel system made of lactide containing poly (ethylene glycol) that was cross-linked in the presence of collagen. The hydrogel precursor solutions are low viscous and injectable and the cross-linked hydrogels form elastomeric-like polymer networks. Mechanical properties of the hydrogels were found to depend predominantly on PEG-LA-DA polymer concentration. Incorporation of collagen into the covalently cross-linked PEG based network enhanced hydrogel viscoelasticity. Degradation properties were strongly dependent on temperature. Experimental results suggest that this hydrogel system can be further formulated and developed to fine tune mechanical and degradation properties. The findings and results from this project show promise in generating robust and degradable soft materials for custom made viscoelastic tissue repair such as that of vocal fold.