Design Control for Clinical Translation of 3D Printed Modular Scaffolds

Scott J. Hollister, Colleen L. Flanagan, David A. Zopf, Robert J. Morrison, Hassan Nasser, Janki J. Patel, Edward Ebramzadeh, Sophia N. Sangiorgio, Matthew B. Wheeler, Glenn E. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary thrust of tissue engineering is the clinical translation of scaffolds and/or biologics to reconstruct tissue defects. Despite this thrust, clinical translation of tissue engineering therapies from academic research has been minimal in the 27 year history of tissue engineering. Academic research by its nature focuses on, and rewards, initial discovery of new phenomena and technologies in the basic research model, with a view towards generality. Translation, however, by its nature must be directed at specific clinical targets, also denoted as indications, with associated regulatory requirements. These regulatory requirements, especially design control, require that the clinical indication be precisely defined a priori, unlike most academic basic tissue engineering research where the research target is typically open-ended, and furthermore requires that the tissue engineering therapy be constructed according to design inputs that ensure it treats or mitigates the clinical indication. Finally, regulatory approval dictates that the constructed system be verified, i.e., proven that it meets the design inputs, and validated, i.e., that by meeting the design inputs the therapy will address the clinical indication. Satisfying design control requires (1) a system of integrated technologies (scaffolds, materials, biologics), ideally based on a fundamental platform, as compared to focus on a single technology, (2) testing of design hypotheses to validate system performance as opposed to mechanistic hypotheses of natural phenomena, and (3) sequential testing using in vitro, in vivo, large preclinical and eventually clinical tests against competing therapies, as compared to single experiments to test new technologies or test mechanistic hypotheses. Our goal in this paper is to illustrate how design control may be implemented in academic translation of scaffold based tissue engineering therapies. Specifically, we propose to (1) demonstrate a modular platform approach founded on 3D printing for developing tissue engineering therapies and (2) illustrate the design control process for modular implementation of two scaffold based tissue engineering therapies: airway reconstruction and bone tissue engineering based spine fusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)774-786
Number of pages13
JournalAnnals of Biomedical Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Additive manufacturing
  • Image-based design
  • Regulatory
  • Spine fusion
  • Tissue engineering
  • Tracheobronchial malacia
  • Translation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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