Shirwaiker Got a GRIP

NC State’s Office of Research, Innovation, and Economic Development (ORIED), along with RTI International and Kenan Institute, announced the four winning teams who will receive Game-Changing Research Incentive Program (GRIP) Awards. The GRIP initiative will give more than $1.5M over three years to fund the winning teams’ research projects. ISE’s Dr. Rohan Shirwaiker is a member of the multidisciplinary team that will explore how to efficiently manufacture customizable, biomimetic 3D printed living tissues.

ORIED put out the call for proposals and the response was overwhelming. They received 59 pre-proposals from over 300 NC State faculty covering all 10 NC State colleges as well as collaborators at Duke, RTI and UNC-Chapel Hill. From the 59 projects, ORIED selected 10 groups to submit a final proposal and then six teams were given the opportunity to deliver an oral presentation. The GRIP scientific and administrative review panel then chose the four winning teams.

Dr. Shirwaiker’s Team Project

Dr. Shirwaiker will be working with eight other faculty members – five NC State, three UNC-Chapel Hill – on the research project entitled, “3D Printing of Fibrous Tissue Engineered Medical Products: A New Paradigm for Tissue Biofabrication and Therapeutics”.

The ability to 3D print complex living tissues is a reality. But, these tissues must be customizable and yet efficiently manufactured to resemble the native tissues as closely as possible. The teams’ research looks to build upon the recent advancements in bioprinting. The goal is to develop a 3D printing system to create biocompatible materials, cells and supporting components on fibrous structures. These will in turn form complex and functional living tissues. “I have been working with Dr. Matthew Fisher from UNC-NC State’s Joint BME Department and Dr. Jeffrey Spang who is an orthopedic surgeon at UNC on building 3D-printed scaffolds for different orthopaedic applications,” explained Dr. Shirwaiker. “Traditional 3D printing cannot achieve the biologically appropriate scale that is needed for some of these applications. So we are looking to build a new system that combines the best features of 3D printing and nonwoven scaffold fabrication technologies.”

Their focus will be on human knees. “We are looking to re-engineer different tissues of the knee joint,” said Dr. Shirwaiker. “Since this new system can get to the fiber scale of natural tissues, we want to see how effective it can be. Our other team members are looking at creating these scaffolds to be used in cancer treatments as well as for other clinical applications.”

Primary Investigators

NC State

  • Behnam Pourdeyhimi
  • Frances S. Ligler
  • Benoit Maze
  • Matthew B. Fisher
  • Rohan A. Shirwaiker
  • Kyle G. Mathews

UNC-Chapel Hill

  • Shawn D. Hintgen
  • Jeffrey T. Spang
  • Bruce Cairnes


About GRIP

Dr. Alan Rebar, Vice Chancellor of ORIED, made the initial announcement of the new, large-scale seed-funding program. Its goal is to encourage NC State faculty to think “outside-the-box” and collaborate with others across the university as well as other universities and industry leaders.