BME Seminar Series: Dr. Susan James, Colorado State University

165 Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute
165 Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute
473 W 12th Ave
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

Susan P. James, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and School of Biomedical Engineering
Professor and Associate Director, School of Advanced Materials Discovery
Colorado State University


"Hyaluronan Enhanced Biomaterials: from Knee Implants to Heart Valves and Vascular Grafts"

Dr. James’ Biomaterials Research and Engineering Laboratory (BREL) focuses on polymeric materials used in biomedical engineering. She will discuss the BioPoly materials used in knee resurfacing implants that were invented in BREL, and current work in BREL on developing hyaluronan (HA)-enhanced plastics for blood-contacting applications such as flexible leaflets in heart valves and small diameter vascular grafts.

HA is a natural glycosaminoglycan that is produced commercially via fermentation or harvested from natural sources. The BREL group temporarily modifies the HA with cloaking groups that make it more hydrophobic and soluble in organic solvents. Synthetic plastics such at polyethylene, polytetrafluoroethylene or silicone can then be modified with the cloaked HA. Once the HA is locked into the base polymer, the cloaking groups are removed and the HA is reverted to its native, hydrophilic state. HA enhances the hemocompatibility of the base polymer without significantly affecting its mechanical properties. Dr. James will discuss research results supporting the use of these materials in heart valve and vascular graft technologies.


Dr. Susan James joined the Colorado State University (CSU) Mechanical Engineering faculty in 1994 as an assistant professor. Dr. James was the Head of Mechanical Engineering Department at CSU from 2010-2018, and was the founding Director of the School of Biomedical Engineering at CSU before that.  She received her Ph.D. in Polymers from MIT and her B.S. in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from Carnegie Mellon.  Professor James' research focuses on characterization and development of biomaterial solutions to health care problems. These include orthopedic, cardiovascular and ocular applications as well as regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. She and her students invented the BioPoly® materials, now in clinical use in partial resurfacing knee implants ( throughout Europe and the UK. In collaboration with several faculty, students and researchers, she is currently working on developing hyaluronan-enhanced flexible leaflets for heart valve prostheses.  Her group is also researching new materials for small diameter vascular grafts, contact and intraocular lenses. She lives with her husband and two sons in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains just outside Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.