Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Nanoscale Science and Engineering


Nanoscale Engineering

Content Description

1 online resource (xvi, 168 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

James Castracane

Committee Members

Nathaniel Cady, Kathleen Dunn, Melinda Larsen, Yubing Xie


Biomaterials, Differentiation, Electrospun Nanofibers, Salivary Glands, Substrate Curvature, Tissue Engineering, Salivary glands, Nanofibers, Tissue engineering

Subject Categories

Biology | Biomedical Engineering and Bioengineering | Nanoscience and Nanotechnology


The salivary gland is a complex organ exhibiting a branching, 3-dimensional structure made up of acinar (saliva-producing), and ductal (saliva transporting and modifying) epithelial cells. The high surface area of the gland allows it to efficiently provide the mouth with saliva, maintaining oral cleanliness and comfort. Salivary gland hypofunction, a significant clinical problem often caused by the autoimmune disease Sjögren's syndrome or head and neck radiation for cancer patients, affects millions of Americans and is characterized by a loss of function of salivary gland acinar cells. Chronic xerostomia, or dry mouth, arises as a result of salivary gland hypofunction and can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, gum disease, and oral infections, as well as a decreased ability to chew, swallow, and speak. Treatment options for patients with salivary gland hypofunction include the use of artificial saliva which is temporary and often inadequate, or medications to stimulate residual acinar cells which can introduce unwanted side effects.