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Dr Jerry Ochola (2021)

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Employing institution: Moi University (Kenya) 

Host institution: University of Cape Town (South Africa)

Project title: Development of Electrospun Fibrous Scaffold Structures for Cardiovascular Graft Applications. 

Dr. Ochola is a lecturer in the School of Engineering at Moi University. He has a PhD in Materials Engineering from Ghent University (Belgium) where he studied the mechanical behaviour of braided structures in the repair of ruptured and degenerated human tendons. During his postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pavia (Italy) he studied the potential of braided structures in reinforcement of femur shaft fracture. His current research interest is parametric modelling and finite element analysis of biomechanical structures.

AREF Fellowship Research Project:

Cardiovascular diseases are still the leading cause of fatalities worldwide. The potential of using polymeric scaffolds could play a crucial role in cardiovascular surgery due to their ability to provide suitable environment for tissues regeneration, and improved compliance matching. However, their clinical use is still impeded by inherent mechanical properties, biocompatibility and biodegradability. This necessitates need for development of vascular structures with improved attributes for cardiovascular applications.

This project therefore proposes the development of polymeric scaffolds using in-house electrospinning protocols at the University of Cape Town; and in-vitro investigation of mechanical behaviour, alongside biocompatibility and biodegradability properties. The results of this project will provide valuable information on the potential of electro-spun polymeric vascular scaffolds.

Dr Ochola’s placement will take place at the University of Cape Town, which is a major player in vascular biology and computational biomechanics research in Africa. He will learn from Prof. Thomas Franz and Prof. Deon Bezuidenhout, who have experience in tissue-engineered and tissue-regenerative vascular grafts. The knowledge acquired through this fellowship will facilitate future research involving vascular scaffolds, and electro-spinning of small-diameter tubular structures at Moi University.

“This is a much-needed platform for advancement of innovations in computational modelling and development of scaffolds for repair and reinforcement of cardiovascular pathologies.”