Photo of Tannin A. Schmidt, Ph.D.

Tannin A. Schmidt, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Academic Office Location:
Biomedical Engineering
School of Dental Medicine
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue, L7083
Farmington, CT 06030-1721
Phone: 860-679-8361

My basic and translational research interests in biomedical engineering lie within biomechanics (biotribology), biomaterials, biointerface science and biochemistry/biophysics, all within the context of engineering health.

The goal of my program is to understand the fundamental mechanisms and properties of proteoglycan 4 (PRG4), also known as lubricin (a critical lubricating protein found throughout the human body), at relevant biointerfaces and biomaterials, and to apply that knowledge to the development of PRG4-containing biotherapeutics and biomaterials.

I have been successful in translating basic findings as a scientific co-founder of Lubris BioPharma, a clinical stage start-up company developing recombinant human PRG4 (rhPRG4)-based treatments for osteoarthritis, dry eye, and other diseases. I contributed to the development and characterization of rhPRG4, and have significant experience with the protein. In a recently completed clinical trial, rhPRG4 was demonstrated to be safe and effective in treating dry eye disease (signs and symptoms). Based on these promising results, Novartis exercised an option to in-license rhPRG4 from Lubris, for all ophthalmic indications worldwide (outside Europe) license. Lubris continues to evaluate other applications, such as treating post-surgical adhesions and is engaged with other pharmaceutical companies for development of the osteoarthritis treatment.

The forward-looking vision of my program involves rhPRG4 as a platform technology, either alone or in combination with other molecules or biomaterials, for the treatment of OA (both surgical non-surgical approaches), dry eye, and other diseases/conditions (e.g. cancer, Sjogren’s syndrome, inflammatory arthritis, cataracts) where rhPRG4 may have clinical utility. Sophisticated basic research of PRG4 and its properties/function at relevant biointerfaces will continue, along with subsequent expansion to clinical evaluation of rhPRG4-containing biotherapeutics and/or biomaterials for the treatment of OA and dry eye and other diseases through collaboration with surgeons, clinicians and other basic scientists/engineers.

Education
DegreeInstitutionMajor
B.A.Sc.University of TorontoEngineering Science
M.S.University of California, San DiegoBioengineering
Ph.D.University of California, San DiegoBioengineering

Post-Graduate Training
TrainingInstitutionSpecialty
PostdoctoralRush University Medical CenterRheumatology and Biochemistry

The priorities and direction of my biomedical engineering research program are intimately aligned with engineering solutions in health, including biotherapeutics and biomaterials, and potential translational applications in precision and regenerative medicine.

My 5 research program priorities/objectives are:

1. Elucidate the molecular basis of articular cartilage boundary lubrication through the study of PRG4 interactions with itself, with hyaluronan and other synovial fluid constituents, and the articular cartilage surface.
2. Examine the composition and interaction of PRG4+hyaluronan in osteoarthritic synovial fluid, and their effects on articular cartilage boundary lubrication.
3. Assess PRG4’s potential as a boundary lubricant of knee implant biomaterials.
4. Characterize and develop novel PRG4, +/-hyaluronan, containing contact lens biomaterials with enhanced boundary lubricating properties.
5. Examine PRG4’s potential as an anti-inflammatory therapeutic for the treatment of inflammatory arthritis, as well as preventing post-surgical pericardial adhesions and cancer metastasis.

Collectively this work could ultimately lead to the development of new cell, protein or tissue based biomaterial therapeutics that may: 1) halt or reverse the progressive loss of cartilage after an injury or with aging and arthritis; 2) prolong the lifetime and therefore performance of implant materials used for joint arthroplasty; 3) provide a therapeutically effective treatment, in the form of artificial tears and/or novel contact lens biomaterials, for those who suffer from dry eye disease; and 4) contribute to an increased understanding of PRG4’s newly discovered anti-inflammatory properties and potential therapeutic applications in preventing tissue adhesions and cancer metastasis. One specific example of this is the recently published study evaluating recombinant human PRG4 for the treatment of dry eye disease; positive results of the clinical trial demonstrated significant improvement in both signs and symptoms of dry eye disease.

Accepting students for Lab Rotations: Fall '18, Spring '19

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