Dr. Horbett is one of the founding members of UW Bioengineering’s biomaterials research group. Starting in the 1970s, the group pioneered the study of compatibility between the body and synthetic materials. At the time, researchers were exploring the defining properties of biomaterials. They hypothesized that a key factor of biocompatibility was protein adsorption, or the process of proteins forming on the surface of a biomaterial after being immersed in biological fluid. His work advanced the fields of protein adsorption and surface science. He has authored or co-authored over 150 publications and edited four books, including noteworthy texts Proteins at Interfaces I, II and III. He also contributed a chapter on protein adorsption for a major textbook, Biomaterials Science.
Advancing the study of surfaces with high protein retention and non-fouling surfaces;
Establishing a justifiable methodology for I125 labelling;
Protein elution techniques;
Defining the relationships between adsorbed proteins and cell behavior at surfaces;
Identifying the importance of fibrinogen in blood compatibility;
Establishing the low level criterion for platelet activation by adsorbed fibrinogen;
Investigating smart polymers for insulin delivery.
Dr. Horbett is particularly recognized for his teaching of biomaterials science. His teaching was closely aligned with his own research, and that of other labs in the field. He integrated literature review, writing assignments, presentations and guest lectures into his courses, which helped his students establish strong knowledge of the field.