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KERASYNTH

Diana Eusebio, Erin Kirchner, Grace Kwon, Rachel Rusk, Sydney Sieh-Takata

Kerasynth is a synthetically grown biological material that can replace all keratin-based animal fibers. It takes the approach of using tissue engineering to grow wool Hair Follicle Germ (HFG) cells on microfluidic devices designed to provide the cells with nutrients and to remove waste. The subsequent wool could then be harvested and further processed or remain attached to the microfluidic device.

Eventually, using non-animal derived growth media for cell culturing and more biodegradable alternatives for the PDMS used to make the microfluidic devices could make creating a completely vegan wool from a biodegradable support possible in the near future. 

Another component of our project is to propose ways for making tissue engineering a more accessible technology through community-based educational models in schools and vocational training programs. In order to realize this goal, we have created a speculative company named DermaWool that would develop and patent this method of production before licensing other companies to use their technology in other ventures. By democratizing the knowledge and resources used in creating Kerasynth, we hope to provide a material solution that not only addresses human consumer needs and protects animal welfare, but is also inclusive in its production. 


Instructor

Ryan Hoover is an artist and researcher operating at the intersection of digital fabrication, biological systems, and traditional crafts. His work explores the complex ethical implications of new technologies. He exhibits at museums and art centers internationally, and is the recipient of multiple grants and awards.

Hoover's research informs his studio practice and also strives to open positive pathways for others to explore. He leads an interdisciplinary research group on bioprinting at the Baltimore Under Ground Science Space, where he also serves as a board member. He co-organizes the Bioprinting Breakout, an annual conference on bioprinting and tissue engineering that fosters exchange between the fields of medicine, science, engineering, design, art, and civics.

Hoover holds an MFA in interdisciplinary art from MICA's Mount Royal School and a dual BFA in Sculpture and Philosophy from UNC Asheville. As faculty in MICA's Interdisciplinary Sculpture department, he leads innovative classes in digital fabrication and other emerging technologies.

 

Banner image: Michael D. Beckwith, The Leeds Library