Dr. Jörg Gerlach joined the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh in 2003 as a Professor in the Department of Surgery. He holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Bioengineering, Swanson School of Engineering. He was recruited by the University of Pittsburgh after the World Technology Evaluation Center (WTEC) report, “Tissue Engineering and Research,” identified Dr. Gerlach as one of the leading researchers worldwide addressing 3-D high-density bioreactor design with integral oxygenation and decentralized mass exchange. Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, he held an appointment at the Charité, Medical Faculty of the Berlin Universities, Berlin, Germany.
Dr. Gerlach earned an MD with a background in surgery and transplantation medicine from the Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany, a PhD in Experimental Surgery from Humboldt Universität, Berlin, and a PhD in Bioengineering from Strathclyde University, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. He is educated in surgery, hepatology, intensive care, and experimental transplantation medicine. He works on technologies for the clinical translation of stem cell biology and bioengineering research into cell-based therapies in regenerative medicine.
Dr. Gerlach directs the interdisciplinary Bioreactor Group in the McGowan Institute. His biomedical research projects have focused on artificial organs (e.g., trachea replacement), hybrid organs (e.g., endothelial cell-seeded vascular prostheses), bio-artificial systems (liver support systems for extracorporeal organ regeneration), and systems enabling progenitor transplantation (e.g., liver and skin). Dr. Gerlach is internationally recognized for his work in developing biotechnology methods and bioreactor technology for primary cells and stem cells.
Dr. Gerlach also founded a spin-off company to create prototype liver support systems and developed the Extracorporeal Liver Support (MLS) concept that integrates dialysis and detoxification into hybrid liver devices. In Berlin, he successfully coordinated studies on patients with bioreactor technology incorporating liver cells from organs deemed unfit for transplantation.
Dr. Gerlach’s primary research interests include:
maintenance and differentiation of cells in vitro for extracorporeal, temporary clinical use as a hybrid organ
production of cells for transplantation in cell-based therapy
production of regenerative mediators by cells in bioreactors for systemic drug therapy and regenerative medicine applications
skin cell transplantation, methods, and devices
His primary focus has been the use of liver and skin cells, but he and his research team also are using bone marrow, neuronal, and fat cells, adult stem cells, and fetal and embryonic stem cells. He is the recipient of various awards, is the author of 125 abstracts, 28 book contributions, and over 145 peer-reviewed publications, and has been awarded several patents. His publications deal with organ replacement, tissue engineering, and bio-medical technology engineering, as well as transplantation medicine, transplantation immunology, and organ preservation.
Currently, within the Gerlach Laboratory, Dr. Gerlach and his research personnel are actively involved in projects concerning the following:
innovative burn therapies with autologous skin stem cells
3D high-density co-culture systems for primary human cells and stem cells
bioreactors for extracorporeal organ support, cell production and production of substances by cells
modular extracorporeal liver support therapy
cell provision for cell transplantation in regenerative medicine, fetal liver stem cells, and embryonic stem cell lines