Dr. Michael Oertel is an Assistant Professor of Pathology, Division of Experimental Pathology, Department of Pathology, and a member of the Liver Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. He received his education at the University of Leipzig, Germany, obtaining his PhD there in 2000. Dr. Oertel was a Research Associate at Yeshiva University, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Marion Bessin Liver Research Center, Bronx, New York. Following his post-doctoral work, Dr. Oertel held several academic positions at Yeshiva University.
Dr. Oertel’s research interests include treatments for end stage liver disease. The only currently available treatment for end stage liver disease is liver transplantation. Since the number of patients on the liver transplant list far exceeds the number of donor organs available, alternative treatment methods, such as hepatic cell transplantation, are under intensive investigation. Therefore, a major goal of his studies is to repopulate the injured/diseased liver by cell transplantation using various cell types (e.g., fetal liver stem/progenitor cells, enriched stem cell populations, mature hepatocytes, etc.).
Several years ago, Dr. Oertel and colleagues discovered that fetal liver stem/progenitor cells can sufficiently replace hepatic mass in the normal rat liver. Their studies suggest that activin A (a mediator of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis) in the host liver creates a tissue microenvironment favoring replacement of hepatocytes by transplanted stem/progenitor cells through cell competition. Dr. Oertel and his team demonstrated Proof-of-Principle that cellular therapies can lead to restoration of injured parenchyma in hepatic microenvironments with advanced fibrosis, using experimental conditions that reflect circumstances similar to human fibrosis/cirrhosis. Moreover, they showed that biliary fibrosis stimulates liver repopulation by ectopically transplanted hepatocytes, as well as hepatocyte transition towards a biliary epithelial phenotype. Therefore, a long-term objective of their research is to study novel cell transplantation strategies and elucidate basic mechanisms, necessary for successful tissue replacement, as well as the tissue microenvironment conditions in the recipient liver that foster repopulation by transplanted cells.
A list of Dr. Oertel’s publications can be found here.