UC Faculty Awards 2020: Chia-Ying "James" Lin
College of Medicine awardee honored with Emerging Entrepreneurial Achievement Award
Chia-Ying “James” Lin brings a civil engineering perspective to his work in the areas of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine in the UC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. After graduating from college in Taiwan and working as a civil engineer for a period of time, he became disinterested with the prospect of moving from project site to project site. That is when Lin turned his creative nature to the architecture and engineering of the human body.
Dating back to his first days of working with orthopaedic surgeons who used body cement in rebuilding joints, Lin realized he shared a lot of the same language with them. Through the process of what is now 15 iterations of artificial knee joints, he incorporated input from surgeons and fellow engineers in the area of tribology, or the friction of metals. This led to working with biocompatible materials called “scaffolds” that can be molded into anatomic shapes to grow and engineer tissue to be transplanted back into the body.
Lin has developed a number of platform technologies including 3D biofabrication/printing to augment tissue repairs. Working with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Lin’s group invented a “smart” surgical patch with materials that can change shape and then revert back to an earlier shape (shape memory). This allows the patch to be coiled for easier and quicker insertion during surgery, before it morphs back into the intended shape for the cap on the tiny spine. Over time, the patch dissolves and is replaced by tissue, making corrective surgery unnecessary. The way Lin sees it, it is more productive on many levels long-term to develop ways for the body to heal itself than to conduct repeated surgeries.
Lin also developed an injectable formulation that is specifically for aiding soft skeletal tissue repair. The technology has been translated into a commercialized process, with the creation of a biopharmaceutical company, Amplicore Inc. With the licensed technology, Amplicore has developed a pipeline of products with a novel pharmaceutical delivery method that has been shown to promote cartilage repair, retard skeletal degenerative diseases and reduce pain and inflammation.
One aspect of this work that appeals to Lin’s hands-on nature as an engineer is the tangible results he sees. As a basic scientist, he understands the satisfaction of getting research published in a scientific journal. Working in his field as a biomechanical engineer, he gets to take ideas from design to execution, much like an architect or engineer does working on the design of a bridge or piece of infrastructure. It’s what he describes as an unexpected journey from building bridges to building body parts.
Featured image at top: Chia-Ying "James" Lin is the recipient of the Emerging Entrepreneurial Achievement award. Photo/Colleen Kelley/UC Creative Services
UC Faculty Awards
UC is saluting the 16 winners of our 2020 All-University Faculty Awards in a three-part series in UC News weekly through April 22. Beginning April 23, all winners will also be showcased on the Faculty Awards website.