Don Elbert

Photo of Elbert, Don

Associate Professor of Neurology, Clinical Associate Professor

Research Area:
Cellular and Biomolecular Engineering

Phone: (512) 475-6805
Office: BME 1.108E

Research Interests

Professor Elbert received his doctorate degree from The University of Texas at Austin in Chemical Engineering. He performed research at Caltech and ETH-Zurich before joining the faculty of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in 2000. He has made pivotal contributions in the production of hydrogels for use as cell scaffolds. He introduced hydrogel crosslinking chemistries that have been adopted by many researchers in the field. Professor Elbert also introduced a bottom-up method to assemble enzymatically degradable microparticles into scaffolds in the presence of cells. The advantage of this method is that cells first degrade between microparticles and create their own pathways for migration. To make the method more practical, he introduced and patented a new method to produce cell-sized hydrogel microspheres. The materials have proven useful to promote peripheral nerve regeneration in vivo. Professor Elbert also has an interest in the self-assembly process that leads to the formation of senile plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. He helped to develop a mathematical model that led to the discovery that the turnover of plaque-forming peptides slows tremendously with aging.