David Kaplan is the Stern Family Professor of Engineering at Tufts University. He is the chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering and also holds faculty appointments in the School of Medicine, the School of Dental Medicine, the Department of Chemistry, and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. His research focus is on biopolymer engineering to understand structure-function relationships, with emphasis on studies related to self-assembly, biomaterials engineering, and functional tissue engineering/regenerative medicine. He has published over 600 peer-reviewed papers and edited eight books. He directs the NIH P41 Tissue Engineering Resource Center (TERC), which is run by Tufts University in partnership with Columbia University. Kaplan serves on the editorial boards of numerous journals and is associate editor for the ACS journal Biomacromolecules. He has received a number of awards for teaching, was elected a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and received the Columbus Discovery Medal and the Society for Biomaterials' Clemson Award for contributions to the literature.
The Kaplan Lab's research focus is on biopolymer engineering to understand structure-function relationships, with emphasis on studies related to self-assembly, biomaterials engineering, tissue engineering, and regenerative medicine. The studies include a variety of structural proteins, including collagens, elastins, resilins, and silks. In addition, the lab has pioneered the study of silk-based biomaterials in regenerative medicine, ranging from fundamental studies of the biochemistry, molecular biology, and biophysical features of this novel class of fibrous proteins to their impact on stem cell functions and complex tissue formation. The result has been the emergence of silk as a new option in the degradable polymer field, with excellent biocompatibility, new fundamental understandings of the control of water to regulate structure and properties, and new tissue-specific outcomes with silk as scaffolding in gel, fiber, film, or sponge formats. Studies are also focused on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine with the use of complex 3D tissue co-culture systems to establish and study human tissues in the laboratory and in animal systems. These systems are used to study diseases associated with brain, intestine, kidney, obesity, diabetes, and cancers.