Cesar’s bio-scaffold research
Cesar Alcala Orozco is in search of 3D printing materials that offer optimal biological and structural properties for bone tissue engineering. By combining the properties of bioactive nanostructures with 3D printable polymers he aims to make nanocomposite scaffolds with defined load-bearing architecture. Cesar expects his scaffolds to show superior strength, integration and overall bone regeneration potential.
Interdisciplinary team support
Cesar is supported in his research by the Christchurch Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering (CReaTE) research group; an interdisciplinary team who help each other develop beyond their first research discipline. Offering new options to people who’ve lost tissue to disease or injury requires traditional discipline boundaries to be challenged, and this is achieved in part by the broad skills of Cesar’s supervisory team. Associate Professor Tim Woodfield is his primary supervisor and he also has support from Dr Khoon Lim and orthopaedic surgeon Professor Gary Hooper.
Cesar is clear about the benefits of working in an interdisciplinary team, “for me I like that it makes you think about the finer biological, physical and chemical details all at once, while not losing sight of translation and clinical application as an end goal.”
Like sci-fi in the real world
Family legend has it that Cesar would grow up to clone dinosaurs. The Jurassic Park movie had a seminal influence on him as a child and showed him an (imagined) application for his deep appreciation of nature and biology. His inspiration matured with his decision to study Biotechnology Engineering in Mexico City, “during those years I thought the most exciting field was regenerative medicine; it sounded like sci-fi in the real world.”
But a need to explore the world is another strong motivation for Cesar, and so he took an opportunity to complete a Masters in Germany and then found his PhD opportunity in New Zealand. “Finding a sponsored project in the exact field of my interests and still being full of wanderlust, I was very happy to accept the offer to join the CReaTE research group.” Associate Professor Tim Woodfield’s Rutherford Fellowship grant partially funds Cesar’s project, “it’s great to have grant backing, not just because it helps to fund the enquiry but because it shows that there is real-world interest in the applications of my research”.
Clinical translation aspirations
Clinical translation is foremost in Cesar’s aspirations as a research scientist, “I want to expand the current toolbox of bone tissue engineering available to clinicians.”
Cesar is on track to complete his thesis in 2019, and to have some related papers published soon after. And 2020 will likely see him choosing his next role as postdoctoral researcher.