Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I am profoundly honored and humbled to stand before you today as a new member of the PittMcGowan family. This is a moment that fills me with immense excitement and a deep sense of responsibility. On behalf of our entire migratory team of almost 40 people, I’d like to thank the many people in the Dean’s office, Departments of Surgery and Plastic Surgery, in PittMcGowan and in MMG who worked tirelessly to support our move.
I thank Dr. Bill Wagner for his long-standing leadership of this Institute.
Over 25 years ago when McGowan was seeded, Regenerative Medicine was a vision and a promise of the future. It is not the same today. Thanks to the 21st Century Cures Act signed into law in 2016, we now have the Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapeutics (RMAT) designation by the FDA. Reportedly, 91 therapies are approved via the FDA’s RMAT designation. Hundreds are in the pipeline. Regenerative medicine solutions will increasingly occupy a larger fraction of the healthcare market. It is already in the billions of dollars at present and professional market reports consistently predict a sharp rise with compound annual growth rate exceeding 20% per year. PittMcGowan must play an active role in shaping that new future of healthcare. For any small company based in our commonwealth seeking RMAT designation of their product, I announce a seed funding mechanism to collaborate with our faculty.
As we step into this new chapter, I am inspired by the legacy of excellence that defines this institute. I am pleased to report on the formation of the PittMcGowan Wound Research Consortium – a dedicated clinical research arm of this institute. Thanks to the partnership of Drs. Peter Rubin, Gayle Gordillo and Sashwati Roy. We are now the Pennsylvania home to the NIDDK Diabetic Foot Consortium. Joslin-Beth Israel at Harvard is funded as our satellite. This week, the first patient will be enrolled at our Passavant wound clinic. The PittMcGowan Wound Research Consortium expects to enroll patients at all its 20 sites statewide in a phased manner. We are currently working on logistics.
Throughout the world, it is estimated that every 30 seconds a leg is amputated. And 85% of these amputations are the result of a diabetic foot ulcer. Today, we have over 2 million amputees in the United States. For every 1000 adults with diabetes younger than 45, the number of amputations rose from 2.9 in 2000 to 4.2 in 2015. Every day we have 500 new amputations in the US. Pennsylvania ranks in the lowest quartile in the country with a higher-than-average rate of amputation. The PittMcGowan Wound Research Consortium’s goal will be to address that threat to our community through our network of community-based wound care clinics. Our first new Pitt grant award from NIH is aimed at enrolling underrepresented minorities in clinical studies on diabetic foot ulcers.
I want to acknowledge the patients and careprovider families who inspire our work every day. We want to hear from you. We are in the process of developing a diabetic foot ulcer community engagement program wherein we look forward to recruiting community representatives on a paid basis utilizing NIH funds. Our work here at the PittMcGowan will not only be about mending tissues and restoring function; it will be about renewing the hope of the people we serve.
At PittMcGowan, progress has been and continues to be a collaborative endeavor. We will further strengthen our ties with engineering towards higher extramural research funding. I am fortunate that as our team moved, my good friend and colleague Dr. Theresa Meyer moved from her VPR position at Purdue to serve as the VPR at Carnegie Mellon University. We are actively working towards collaborative funding application between CMU and our School of Medicine. NIH’s ARPA-H budget is sharply growing from 1-1.5. to 2.5bn. The DoD has several funding mechanisms well suited for regenerative medicine. To apply for these new funding opportunities, a programmatic approach is required. PittMcGowan will enable its faculty to aim at such large-scale funding. We will strengthen our industry partnership as it is a required component in all these large-scale funding mechanisms.
During the last two decades PittMcGowan has been a beacon of innovation. I thank the Commonwealth for seed funds aimed at boosting our extramural funding of PittMcGowan. At PittMcGowan, success is not just expected but will be nurtured. We will have a biweekly PittMcGowan Grant Workshop. I invite all faculty to attend.
PittMcGowan is primarily a research institute. We must help every faculty member be extramurally funded. Every other role of any individual faculty is secondary to this milestone. Collectively, we will find ways to significantly increase the return on investment by our Commonwealth.
I am pleased to announce a PittMcGowan Lecture series and a PittMcGowan seminar series. The PittMcGowan Lecture will be delivered by pioneers in the field every month. I invite nominations for the PittMcGowan Lecture.
I want to express my deep gratitude to each contributor and the entire staff of the Institute who have built an environment of collaboration and excellence. It’s through your dedication that we have already achieved so much, and I look forward to continuing this journey together. A new executive committee (EC) has been formed and posted on the PittMcGowan website. The EC will meet face to face every month. All other committees and leadership positions will be revisited by the EC. The first monthly face to face faculty meeting is scheduled for September 5th.
With the addition of the new team from Indiana, on-site core faculty and staff strength has doubled. We must get to know each other well and build community strength. Faceto-face interactions spark spontaneous discussions, brainstorming sessions, and serendipitous encounters that often lead to innovative breakthroughs. Our goal is to create an environment that respects individual needs while maximizing our collective impact by being present on site.
To our partners, donors, and sponsors, I extend my heartfelt thanks. Your belief in our mission empowers us to dream bigger and reach higher. Your support will be instrumental in turning our vision into reality.
Finally, our growth depends on our sustainability. As we partner with numerous other business units, internally and externally, we need to find the right business model of proportionate return. In discussion with our partners and with guidance from the School administrators, we will find that win-win model. The challenges ahead are significant, but so is our determination.
In closing, let us remember that the pursuit of regenerative medicine is not just a scientific endeavor – it’s a testament to the human spirit’s capacity for compassion, resilience, and hope. Together, we have the power to reshape the future of healthcare and to strengthen the economy of our commonwealth and beyond. Thank you for entrusting me with this incredible opportunity. I am excited to lead the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine into a new era of discovery, collaboration, and impact.
Chandan K. Sen, PhD, MSc.