Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Business Times, the 2018 Health Care Hero Awards honor the individuals, companies, and organizations in western Pennsylvania for their contributions to improving health care in our region.
Two leading cancer researchers from the Women’s Cancer Research Center, a collaborative effort between UPMC Magee-Womens Research Institute (MWRI) and UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, recently received the Susan G. Komen Greater Pennsylvania Terri L. Chapman Award.
Genetic testing is a powerful diagnostic tool that is increasingly being used for the diagnosis of dilated cardiomyopathy, a disease in which the heart becomes enlarged, making it difficult to pump blood. Cardiomyopathy affects more than 3.5 million people in the United States. African Americans are at especially high risk but have been underrepresented in genetic studies, often due to socioeconomic barriers and other health disparities.
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is believed to provide pain relief and help improve joint function in degenerative joint disease, but a new study—coauthored by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Rocky Tuan, PhD, Vice-Chancellor and President of The Chinese University of Hong Kong—has shown that it does not act by promoting stem cell proliferation or enhance the cartilage formation capabilities of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The effects of PRP treatment on cartilage formation and chondrogenesis in the presence of adult human MSCs derived from two different sources are reported in the study published in Tissue Engineering, Part A, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
The University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering selected Ali Behrangzade for its Leonard H. Berenfield Graduate Fellowship in Cardiovascular Bioengineering. This competitive fellowship is awarded to one student each academic year. Mr. Behrangzade is a graduate student in the Soft Tissue Biomechanics Lab, which is headed by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Jonathan Vande Geest, PhD, Professor, Department of Bioengineering.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, buttocks augmentation procedures with fat grafting have increased 10 percent from 2016 to 2017. As many as one in 3,000 people who undergo the procedure die, many from a fatal fat embolism. This surgery has the highest rate of death of all aesthetic procedures.
Soroosh Sanatkhani, a bioengineering graduate student working in the lab of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty member Sanjeev Shroff, PhD, was named the 2018 Wes Pickard Fellow by the Department of Bioengineering. Recipients of this award are selected by the department chair and chosen based on academic merit.
Cut off a salamander’s tail and, in a few weeks, a near-perfect replacement grows. Do the same to a lizard and a new tail will regrow, but it won’t be the same as the original. By comparing tail regeneration between the two animals, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that stem cells in the spinal cord are the ultimate limiting factor. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members Thomas Lozito, PhD, Assistant Professor in Pitt’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering, and Rocky Tuan, PhD, Vice-Chancellor and President of The Chinese University of Hong Kong, are co-authors on the study.
Fabrisia Ambrosio, PhD, MPT—Director of Rehabilitation for UPMC International and an Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh with secondary appointments in the Departments of Physical Therapy, Bioengineering, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Microbiology & Molecular Genetics—and Julie Phillippi, PhD—Assistant Professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, School of Medicine, with a secondary appointment in the Department of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering—have joined the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Executive Committee.
National Kidney Foundation (NKF) has selected its award recipients of the 2018 NKF Young Investigator Research Grant Program, which strives to improve the quality of life for people with kidney disease by funding promising young scientists in their research to discover the causes of kidney disease, prevent its progression, and improve treatment for those living with it today. One of the projects selected includes the expertise of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Kang Kim, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh and the Heart and Vascular Institute at UPMC.
Alliance for Cancer Gene Therapy (ACGT), the nation’s only charitable organization dedicated exclusively to funding cancer cell and gene therapy research, announced the recipients of its 2018 research grants using innovative clinical approaches to find gene therapy treatments for solid cancers. One of the projects funded is a collaborative effort by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Joseph Glorioso, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in the School of Medicine with a secondary appointment in the Department of Human Genetics, of the University of Pittsburgh, and Gary Cohen, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania, who are working together on a vaccine for melanoma.
Implantation of a stent-like flow diverter can offer one option for less invasive treatment of brain aneurysms – bulges in blood vessels – but the procedure requires frequent monitoring while the vessels heal. Now, a multi-university research team—including McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members Youngjae Chun, PhD, associate professor, industrial engineering and bioengineering, and William Wagner, PhD, director of the McGowan Institute and professor of surgery, bioengineering and chemical engineering —has demonstrated proof-of-concept for a highly flexible and stretchable sensor that could be integrated with the flow diverter to monitor hemodynamics in a blood vessel without costly diagnostic procedures.
The Wiegand Summer Internship provides an opportunity for a high school senior, who resides in Allegheny County and who graduated in the spring of 2018, to spend 5 weeks learning first-hand about regenerative medicine research and scientific investigations in general.
A new group of graduate students and their advisers is joining the drive to increase diversity and inclusion in science. Emily Ackerman, PhD student, and her adviser, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Jason Shoemaker, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, is one of those student-adviser pairs. Ms. Ackerman is a PhD student studying network virology and host immune responses in Dr. Shoemaker’s lab.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member George Gittes, MD, a nationally recognized pediatric surgeon and well-established basic scientist, has been appointed director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research and co-scientific director at UPMC Children’s Hospital. He also will assume the title of surgeon-in-chief emeritus.
The lab of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Michel Modo, PhD, Professor in the Department of Radiology at the University of Pittsburgh with secondary appointments in the Department of Bioengineering and the Center for Neural Basis of Cognition, recently published a paper in Scientific Reports that characterizes the biomechanics aspects of cell injections into the brain. Dr. Modo shares the paper with the regenerative medicine community as it conceptualizes the delivery of therapeutic products through a small-bore needle, an issue commonly neglected for these types of therapies. The abstract of the paper reads:
More than one in 10 children hospitalized with sepsis die, but when a series of clinical treatments and tests is completed within an hour of its detection, the chances of survival increase considerably, according to a new analysis led by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and co-authored by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Derek Angus, MD, MPH. Dr. Angus is Chair of the Department of Critical Care Medicine of both the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the UPMC Healthcare System.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine is pleased to announce that Catalina Pineda Molina, a doctoral student within the Bioengineering Department at the University of Pittsburgh and a graduate researcher in the laboratory of McGowan Institute Deputy Director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, will be awarded the 2018 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Outstanding Student Award during the upcoming 2018 TERMIS World Congress. The 2018 TERMIS World Congress is scheduled for September 4-7, 2018, and will be held in Kyoto, Japan.
“If you had a patient in need of a dentist, which dentist would you refer them to?”
This is the question asked to thousands of dentists to help determine who the topDentists should be. Dentists and specialists are asked to take into consideration years of experience, continuing education, manner with patients, use of new techniques and technologies, and of course physical results. Pittsburgh Magazine’s annual list, which contains 376 dentists across 11 specialties, includes 3 McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members:
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Shilpa Sant, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, has received a 7-year R37 MERIT Award from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH, for her project entitled, “Three-dimensional organoid models to study breast cancer progression.” This grant is funded by the NCI under the Cancer Tissue Engineering Collaborative (TEC) Research Program that aims to support the development and characterization of state-of-the-art biomimetic tissue-engineered technologies for cancer research. The total funding for the first 5 years is $2.7 million.
Chronic brain implants are long-term devices used to record brain activity or stimulate neurons with electrical pulses and are a crucial component of neuroprosthetics. The performance of these devices depends on the host tissue response, which is often inflammatory and results in device performance degradation. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Takashi Kozai, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, was awarded an NIH R21 grant to improve device design by investigating the role of oligodendrocytes and oligodendrocyte progenitor cells in this process.
Mario Cattabiani III, The Pitt News, recently reported on University of Pittsburgh’s first-ever Seed Grants. Pitt received 171 applications and from that group selected 23 projects for awards, granting a total of approximately $1 million. One project selected was submitted by McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member, Kurt Weiss, MD, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Division of Musculoskeletal Oncology, who received a $50,000 grant to fund the Pittsburgh Sarcoma Research Collaborative, or PSaRC — a project that will aim to develop new therapeutic strategies and eventually improve sarcoma patient care and outcomes.
In the Pitt Summer 2018 edition, author Jennie Dorris highlights the career paths of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member James Funderburgh, PhD, Professor of Ophthalmology and Cell Biology & Physiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and his wife, Martha Funderburgh, MPH, Lab Manager and Sr. Research Technician, Corneal Cell Biology Laboratory, Department of Ophthalmology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The story provides “an exciting outlook for a research team inspired by personal experience and driven by the desire to help others see a brighter future.”
The microJoint, a three-dimensional model that replicates a human joint on a small scale, is under development in Pittsburgh. Once completed, it could have the potential to revolutionize the treatment of conditions related to joint complications, such as osteoarthritis. A radically new way of thinking — and a culture that encourages risk-taking — were key to its development.
When an institution encourages the free flow of ideas and doesn’t rigidly define the roles of its researchers, new and better solutions are the result. And free-thinking scientists are the sort of people who are attracted to a collaborative environment that encourages risk-taking. These are the enironments where ideas are grown.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $105,000 to five research groups through its 2018 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. Four of these research groups involve the expertise of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members; the projects include
Duquesne University professor John Pollock, PhD, has received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring to honor his career in educating students from universities to grade schools. Dr. Pollock is an affiliated faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine congratulates George Hussey, PhD, and Jenna Dziki, PhD student, on their newly published Nature Reviews Materials article entitled, “Extracellular matrix-based materials for regenerative medicine.” It is featured on the cover of the July 2018 issue of the journal with a 3D image of the matrix network by Visuals Unlimited, Inc./Dr. Edna Cukierman.
The American Society for Artificial Internal Organs (ASAIO) selected Alexandra May, a chemical engineering graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh, as a finalist for the Willem Kolff Award at its 64th annual meeting. The award, named after the late Dutch physician who invented the original artificial kidney, recognizes the top abstracts at each annual meeting.
In his opinion piece for STAT, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Derek Angus, MD, MPH, Chair of the Department of Critical Care Medicine of both the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the UPMC Healthcare System, states:
Aging Cell’s Best Paper Prize for 2017 honored the efforts of numerous McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members. The paper entitled “Aging of the skeletal muscle extracellular matrix drives a stem cell fibrogenic conversion,” appeared in the June 2017 issue of Aging Cell. The prize is awarded annually by the Anatomical Society on the recommendation of the Editor-in-Chiefs to the Lead Author and Co-Authors and is awarded to the paper considered to be the most outstanding publication in Aging Cell in that year by either a member or non-member of the Society.
When it comes to diagnosing suspected endometrial cancer and several other endometrial pathologies in post-menopausal women, physicians in the U.S. have two choices: Pipelle biopsy, a minimally invasive procedure that has a 60 to 80 percent chance of success, or a more expensive, riskier procedure that works nearly every time called dilation and curettage (D&C).
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Steven Belle, PhD, MScHyg, co-director of the Epidemiology Data Center at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, has been named a Fellow of the Society for Clinical Trials, a prestigious honor that only a few scientists achieve each year.
Buprenorphine (BUP) is approved for the treatment of opioid addiction. The current dosing regimen of BUP in pregnant women is based on recommendations designed for non-pregnant adults, but physiological changes during pregnancy may alter BUP exposure and efficacy.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member David Vorp, PhD, Associate Dean for Research and John A. Swanson Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, was named a Fellow of the American Heart Association (FAHA) in recognition of his innovative and sustained contributions in scholarship, education, and volunteer service to the organization. Dr. Vorp’s election was conferred by the Council on Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology (ATVB) recognizing his work in those fields.
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) at UPMC has proven to be an effective treatment for involuntary movements associated with Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, such as tremors, slowness of movement, rigidity, and problems with walking and balance. DBS is also approved for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) treatment under a Humanitarian Device Exemption.
Can nanomedicine play a role in the future of pain treatment? Several answers to this question were presented during the American Pain Society Scientific Summit in Anaheim, California, earlier this year. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Jelena Janjic, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutics in the Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Mylan School of Pharmacy at Duquesne University and the Founder and Co-Director of the Chronic Pain Research Consortium at Duquesne, provided one solution through her work on targeted nanomedicine for chronic pain treatment.
More than half of patients hospitalized for a concussion receive no follow-up care within three months of their discharge, according to a national multi-center study published recently. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member David Okonkwo, MD, PhD, is a co-author on the study. Dr. Okonkwo is Professor and Executive Vice Chair of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh, with a secondary appointment as Professor of Sports Medicine and Nutrition. He serves as Director of Neurotrauma and of the Scoliosis and Spinal Deformity Program at UPMC. In addition, he is the Clinical Director of the Brain Trauma Research Center. Dr. Okonkwo is also a member of the Medical Staff for the Pittsburgh Steelers.