Bio-nanomaterials Chemistry and Engineering Laboratory (BnCE)

The Bio-nanomaterials Chemistry and Engineering Laboratory (BnCE), under the direction of Emilio I. Alarcon, PhD, is located in the Research Centre of University of Ottawa Heart Institute. It is affiliated with the Biomaterials and Regenerative Research Program in the Division of Cardiac Surgery. BnCE’s main focus is the development and characterization of bio-inspired hybrid nanomaterials. 3D scaffolds are being fabricated with improved contractile properties and antibacterial properties for the reconstruction of tissues with poor regenerative capabilities like infarcted heart muscle and skin in patients with reduced vascularization (e.g., diabetic foot patients).


By fabricating new hybrid nano-structures, BnCE seeks to overcome the current limitations of biomimetic Extracellular Matrix (ECM) scaffolds for tissue regeneration. Our research interests cover several areas of bio-nanomaterials ranging from the bases of free radical chemistry to the fabrication and testing of 3D scaffolds for tissue regeneration. Listed below are some of the main areas of interest our group is currently focused on:

  • Hybrid nano-electro conductive fibers for cardiac patches and myocardial regeneration. Our group is currently developing new conductive fibers that will be employed for the fabrication of cardiac patches of infarcted heart muscle.
  • 3D hybrid scaffolds for regenerative medicine with improved antibacterial properties and neovascularization capabilities for diabetic foot. Recently progress made by our research team has allowed to the development of a suitable collagen based formulation with anti-infective properties.
  • Spray-on antibacterial biopolymers for tissue neovascularization and biofilm control of chronically infected tissues. Our aim is to produce a new generation of materials that could reduce the wound healing time while providing the damaged tissue with a sustainable antimicrobial barrier.
  • Effect of metal nanoparticles in biomolecule oxidation and degradation of hybrid nanomaterials for tissue engineering. Our group is seeking for new insights on the actual impact that nanomaterials could have in the oxidation profile and extent of biomolecules under oxidative stress. Our findings we hope will contribute to a better understanding of the anti-oxidant or pro-oxidant paradigm of nanoparticles.

Selected publications:

  1. J. Pupkaite, M. Ahumada, S. Mclaughlin, M. Temkit, S. Alaziz, R. Seymour, M. Ruel, I. Kochevar, M. Griffith, E. J. Suuronen, and E. I. Alarcon. Collagen-Based Photoactive Agent for Tissue Bonding. ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 9, 9265-9270 (2017).
  2. S. Allison, M. Ahumada, C. Andronic, B. McNeill, F. Variola, M. Ruel, V. Hamel, W. Liang, E. Suuronen, and E. I. Alarcon. Electroconductive nanoengineered biomimetic hybrid fibers for cardiac tissue engineering. Journal of Materials Chemistry B, 5, 2402-2406 (2017).
  3. S. McLaughlin, M. Ahumada, W. Franco, T.-F. Mah, R. Seymour, E. J. Suuronen, and E. I. Alarcon. Sprayable peptide-modified silver nanoparticles as barrier against bacterial colonization. Nanoscale, 8, 19200-3 (2016).
  4. E. I. Alarcon, B. Vulesevic, A. Argawal, A. Ross, P. Bejjani, J. Podrebarac, R. Ravichandran, J. Phopase, E. J. Suuronen, and M. Griffith. Coloured cornea replacements with anti-infective properties: Expanding the safe use of silver nanoparticles in regenerative medicine. Nanoscale, 8, 6484-9 (2016).
  5. M. Ahumada, S. McLaughlin, N. L. Pacioni, and E. I. Alarcon. Spherical Silver Nanoparticles in the Detection of Thermally Denatured Collagens. Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 408, 1993-6 (2016).
  6. Horacio Poblete, Anirudh Agarwal, Suma S. Thomas, Cornelia Bohne, Ranjith Ranjithkumar, Jaywant Phospase, Jeffrey Comer, and Emilio I. Alarcon. New Insights on Peptide–Silver Nanoparticle Interaction: Deciphering the Role of Cysteine and Lysine in the Peptide Sequence. Langmuir, 32, 265–273 (2016).
  7. S. Simoncelli, H.d.A. Weerasekera, C. Fasciani, C. Boddy, P. F. Aramendia, E. I. Alarcon and J. C. Scaiano. Thermoplasmonic ssDNA Dynamic Release from Gold Nanoparticles Examined with Advanced Fluorescence Microscopy. Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 6; 1499-1503 (2015).
  8. A. Ahmadi, S. Thorn, E. I. Alarcon, M. Kordos, D. T. Padavan, T. Hadizad, G. O. Cron, R. S. Beanlands, J. N. DaSilva, M. Ruel, R. A. deKemp and E. J. Suuronen. PET imaging of a collagen matrix reveals its effective injection and targeted retention in a mouse model of myocardial infarction. Biomaterials, 49: 18-26 (2015).
  9. M. Vignoni, H.d.A. Weerasekera, M.J. Simpson, J. Phopase, T.-F. Mah, M. Griffith, E. I. Alarcon, and J.C. Scaiano, LL37 peptide@silver nanoparticles: Combining the best of the two worlds for skin infection control. Nanoscale, 6(11), 5725-5728 (2014).
  10. E. I. Alarcon, K. Udewku, M. Skog, N. Polisetti, N. L. Pacioni,  K. G. Stamplecoskie, M. Gonzalez-Béjar,  A. Richter-Dahlfors, M. Griffith,  and J. C. Scaiano. The Biocompatibility and Antibacterial Properties of Collagen-stabilized, Photochemically Prepared Silver Nanoparticles. Biomaterials, 33 (19), 4947-56 (2012).

Team Lead:

Emilio Alarcon, PhD

Current Team members

Manuel Ahumada Escandón, PhD in Chemistry, Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Postdoctoral Fellow.
Research focus:  protein oxidation, membrane permeation and membrane damage promoted by natural toxins.

Christopher McTiernan, PhD in Chemistry, University of Ottawa, Postdoctoral Fellow.
Research focus: biomaterials and tissue engineering.

Katsuhiro Hosoyama, MD, Division of Cardiovascular Surgery, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine. Visiting Scientist
Research focus: biomaterials and tissue engineering of new materials for cardiac tissue regeneration

Sarah McLaughlin, PhD candidate, CIHR Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship awardee, Cellular and Molecular Medicine program, University of Ottawa.
Research focus: application of collagen based nanomaterials for tissue regeneration, in particular for treatment of ischemic cardiac muscle following myocardial infarction.

James Podrebarac, MSc student,  Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa.
Research focus: development of human recombinant collagen (rHC) type I and type III injectable hydrogels that promote cardiac tissue repair/regeneration in post-MI scar tissue. I intend to physically and chemically characterize the hydrogels, followed by in vitro and in vivo assessment of their biocompatibility and angiogenic properties. 

Erik Jaques, BSc, Human Kinetics at University of Ottawa, NSERC Summer Student Scholarship awardee.
Research focus: peptide oxidation in bionanomimetic systems




Positions Available 

Highly motivated and proactive individuals with a background in chemistry, engineering and/or biochemistry interested in pursuing undergraduate, graduate and post graduate studies are welcome to apply to our lab. Our group is mainly focused on the development of hybrid nanomaterials for tissue engineering, please visit the research focus section of our website for more information.
Students are encouraged to directly e-mail Dr. Alarcon ( Please include a copy of your CV, official transcripts, and a brief statement of interests.

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