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Paulina Sierpinski Hill, PhD


Principal at Polaris Partners
Boston, MA


Ph.D., Molecular Medicine and Translational Science Graduate Program, May 2009
Wake Forest University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Dual Degree BS/BA (Biology, Chemistry, Biochemistry & Neuroscience), 2004
East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 

Current Research:

The development of novel tissue engineering strategies for peripheral nerve regeneration. More than 18 million extremity injuries occur in the United States each year, resulting in a substantial number of peripheral nerve injuries. Nerve defects are a common result of these types of injuries and present a significant challenge clinically. Current treatments for peripheral nerve defects are limited and rarely lead to full functional regeneration. My research is focused on the use of a unique biomaterial derived from human hair keratins as a tissue engineering scaffold for peripheral nerve regeneration. Specifically, we are investigating the ability of keratin scaffolds to enhance the regeneration process through a nerve guidance conduit. We are finding that human hair keratins have remarkable physical, chemical and biological properties with superior biocompatibility and growth factor activity. In addition, we have discovered that the insertion of keratin scaffolds into a nerve guidance conduit enhances nerve regeneration in vivo. The goal of my project is to investigate the mechanisms by which keratins are able to facilitate the nerve regeneration process and to use keratin based scaffolds to promote regeneration of large nerve defects.

Honors and Awards:

November 2007 Article highlighted in Science 2007; 23:1219. Sierpinski P, et al. The use of keratin biomaterials made from human hair for the promotion of regeneration of peripheral nerves. Biomaterials 29: 118-128 (2008).
June 2007 Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS) Student Travel Award
December 2006 1st place Graduate Student Poster Presentation Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine Retreat
May 2004 Honors in Neuroscience, East Carolina University
April 2004 1st place Undergraduate Student Thesis, East Carolina University
2002 Conference USA Commissioners Award For Outstanding Student- Athlete Presented at East Carolina University
2001-2004 Conference USA All Academic Team
2000, 2001 Chancellor’s List – East Carolina University
2002, 2003 Dean’s List – East Carolina University


Apel PJ, Garrett J, Sierpinski P, Smith T, Koman LA, Van Dyke ME. Peripheral Nerve Regeneration Using a Keratin-Based Scaffold: Long-Term Functional and Histological Outcomes in a Mouse Model. J Hand Surg Am. 2008 Nov;33(9):1541-7.

Sierpinski P, Garrett J, Ma, J, Apel PJ, Klorig D, Smith T, Koman, LA, Atala A and Van Dyke ME. The use of keratin biomaterials made from human hair for the promotion of regeneration of peripheral nerves. Biomaterials 29: 118-128 (2008).

Murashov AK, Chintalgattu V, Islamov RR, Lever TE, Pak SE, Sierpinski PL, Katwa LC, Van Scott, MR. RNAi pathway is functional in peripheral nerves. FASEB J. 21: 656-70 (2007).

Murashov AK, Pak ES, Hendricks WA, Owensby JP, Sierpinski PL, Tatko LM, Fletcher PL. (2005) Directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells into dorsal interneurons; FASEB J. 19: 252-4 (2005).

For a listing of additional publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine


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Contact Information
Molecular Medicine and Translational Science Graduate Program

Office 336-713-4259

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