Degree Name

BS in Biomedical Engineering


Biomedical and General Engineering Department


Kristen Cardinal


The blood brain barrier is the protector of the central nervous system and a physical barrier that functions to regulate the substances that can pass in and out of the brain; it is the function and integrity of this system that keeps the homeostasis of the central nervous system. Yet this shield against foreign invaders in the blood also prevents drugs designed for treatment of various ailments of the central nervous system from reaching their target in the brain. Developing drugs that can pass through this barrier, and understanding it’s function has become an area of increasing interest. Many researchers and companies are turning to in vitro models of the blood brain barrier to test a drugs ability to pass through this shield and target areas in the central nervous system. Our lab at Cal Poly focuses on developing blood vessel mimics, and tissue engineered constructs that would allow for in vitro modeling and testing of blood vessel physiology. Currently the main focus is on coronary blood vessels for stent testing, but expanding this to other areas of blood vessel research is of interest to our lab, and we believe that we can contribute to the blood brain barrier field by using our labs experience with other tissue engineering constructs. The focus of this project is to design and create aspects of a novel bioreactor that is reusable, can be built in-house, and facilitates better access to the scaffolding. The primary areas of focus in this project were to 1) design and manufacture a reusable novel bioreactor in-house, 2) create a mandrel to collect electrospun fibers to be used as scaffolding, and 3) to evaluate these scaffolds and compare to the literatures characteristics of proper scaffolds for blood brain barrier models. All of these goals were met; we now have a bioreactor prototype that has been manufactured and is currently going through further refinement, modification and testing to optimize the design, there is now series of new mandrels that are ready to be used to electrospin scaffolds to be used in the new bioreactor, and the scaffolds have been shown to possess some of the characteristics that were outlined in the literature for blood brain barrier models. The completion of all of these aims has allowed for the advancement and progress towards the ultimate goal of creating an in vitro model of the blood brain barrier to study it’s physiologic mechanisms and study drug diffusion. The project will allow for research and advancement in the area of developing pharmacological therapies and strategies for treating disorders and ailments of the central nervous system.