Major Will Conkright, currently enrolled in the Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science program at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, was the recipient of the 2020 Colonel Mary Lipscomb Hamrick Army Medical Specialist Corps Manuscript Award for his publication titled “Differential Recovery Rates of Fitness Following U.S. Army Ranger Training.” The article was published in the May 2020 issue of the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sports. Major Conkright’s main academic advisor is McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Brad Nindl, PhD (COL, USAR), who is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Neuromuscular Research Lab/Warrior Human Performance Research Center.
The American Liver Foundation (ALF), in partnership with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), launched “The Greatest Gift Initiative” to raise awareness about lifesaving living-donor liver transplantation. This initiative teaches Americans with end-stage liver disease strategies for finding a living donor and inspires more people to consider donating a part of their liver.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine Yu-li Wang, PhD, and his team are researching cell migration while using the technologies developed for potential applications in artificial organs and other devices. The team has been awarded a five-year research grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), one of the National Institutes of Health, to support this work.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Michael Pinsky, MD, Professor and Vice Chair Emeritus of the Department of Critical Care Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, has been selected to receive the 2020 American Thoracic Society Assembly on Critical Care Annual Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is given in recognition and appreciation of Dr. Pinsky’s career dedicated to research and teaching of the science and practice of critical care medicine. He will receive his award during the Critical Care Assembly virtual membership meeting to be held August 5-10, 2020.
A physician-scientist is a holder of a degree in medicine and science who invests significant time and professional effort in scientific research and spends correspondingly less time in direct clinical practice compared to other physicians. Physician-scientists are often employed by academic or research institutions and may focus their clinical practices on very specialized patient populations, such as those with rare genetic diseases or rare cancers. Although they are a minority of both practicing physicians and active research scientists, physician-scientists are often cited as playing a critical role in translational medicine and clinical research, connecting biomedical research findings to health care applications.1
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Derek Angus, MD, MPH, has been named the UPMC chief healthcare innovation officer. His appointment comes at a time when healthcare is undergoing unparalleled change. The acceleration of biomedical discovery, together with advances in technology and data science, is spurring revolutionary changes in the entire relationship a person has with her health and wellness.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Sachin Velankar, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, recently was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for his proposal entitled “Collaborative Research: Micromechanics of Meniscus-bound Particle Clusters.” Dr. Valenkar shares this grant with Charles Schroeder, PhD, Associate Head and Ray and Beverly Mentzer Professor, Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The award is for three years for a total of $510,000 ($292K as the Pitt portion).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has awarded a grant of $2.59 million to George Gittes, MD, director of the Richard King Mellon Foundation Institute for Pediatric Research, co-scientific director at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and affiliated faculty member of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, to support continuing development of gene therapy technology that may have the potential to cure Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, which affects approximately 10% of the U.S. population, or more than 34 million people.
Roughly one in eight women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime, and HER2-positive (HER2+) breast cancers represent about 25 percent of all breast cancer cases. Though multiple therapies exist, most patients will develop metastatic disease and resistance to current treatments.
The team led by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has created a new technology that enhances scientists’ ability to communicate with neural cells using light. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Tzahi Cohen-Karni, PhD, CMU’s associate professor of biomedical engineering and materials science and engineering, led a team that synthesized three-dimensional fuzzy graphene on a nanowire template to create a superior material for photothermally stimulating cells. NW-templated three-dimensional (3D) fuzzy graphene (NT-3DFG) enables remote optical stimulation without the need for genetic modification and uses orders of magnitude less energy than available materials, preventing cellular stress. This work was presented in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences.
The Center for Disease Control estimates that roughly 40,000 infants are born with congenital heart defects (CHDs) each year. Among that population, 25 percent are critical cases that require cardiac surgery. The waitlist for a heart transplant continues to grow; yet, the only FDA-approved life-saving device for CHD has shortcomings and is based on technology from the 1970s.
The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Medical Innovation (CMI) awarded grants totaling $60,000 to three research groups through its 2020 Round-1 Pilot Funding Program for Early Stage Medical Technology Research and Development. Two of the three project teams funded include McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty members. They are:
A multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers at Pitt and UPMC has developed guidelines to assist coaches, athletic trainers, and organizers with creating a safe environment for youth athletes, fans, and staff as they consider a return to play.
Today in the United States there are millions of people suffering from liver disease which makes it the second cause of liver transplant. Only 30-35% of those in need of a liver will receive one. Approximately 30,000 people per year will die from liver disease.
Researchers from Sechenov University and the University of Pittsburgh compared the properties of two groups of extracellular vesicles. Either present in a liquid phase or attached to the fibers of the extracellular matrix, these vesicles facilitate metabolism and cell-cell communication. A better understanding of their structure, production and movement can help create new bioengineered materials and repair damaged tissues more quickly.
Brain tissue lost after a stroke is not regenerated, although a repair response associated with neurogenesis does occur. A failure to regenerate functional brain tissue is not caused by the lack of available neural cells, but rather the absence of structural support to permit a repopulation of the lesion cavity. Inductive bioscaffolds can provide this support and promote the invasion of host cells into the tissue void.1
According to the American Cancer Society, a woman’s risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about one in 78. The majority of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed with metastatic disease that spreads to other parts of the body and have a low five-year survival rate.
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System (VAPHS) and UPMC partnered to perform VA’s first living-donor liver transplant, in which a portion of a healthy person’s liver is transplanted to someone in need of a liver.
The Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Spring Term 2020 Outstanding PhD Paper winner is Michelle Pressly, BS, a PhD candidate in the laboratory of McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Robert Parker, PhD, Professor in the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She published the journal manuscript titled “Accelerating availability of clinically-relevant parameter estimates from thromboelastogram point-of-care device” in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery. McGowan Institute affiliated faculty member Gilles Clermont, MD, Professor of Critical Care Medicine, of Industrial Engineering, and of Mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh, is also a co-author of this publication.
Researchers from Sechenov University and University of Pittsburgh discovered that the resistance of innate immune cells, macrophages, to ferroptosis – a type of programmed cell death – depends on the type of their activation. It turned out that cells helping tissues to recover from inflammation were more vulnerable. The researchers identified the mechanisms underlying the cells’ resistance and explained how this research would help regulate inflammation in a paper published in Nature Chemical Biology. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty members Valerian Kagan, PhD, DSc, Professor and Vice-Chairman in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health as well as a Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, the Department of Radiation Oncology, and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, and Ivet Bahar, PhD, Distinguished Professor, the John K. Vries Chair, and the Founding Chair in the Department of Computational & Systems Biology at the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine, are co-authors on the study.
As the Baby Boomer generation gets older, the number of Americans over 65 continues to grow. With this growth, there is a need for improved medical technology that will help clinicians more effectively treat common age-associated conditions such as heart disease — a leading cause of death in the U.S.
In the Mechanics of Morphogenesis Lab, team members carry out interdisciplinary research at the interface of physics, engineering, mathematics, and developmental biology. What you cannot follow in real time in the body, these researchers follow with sophisticated micromechanical test devices and imaging systems. Once this data is gathered, they then create elaborate computer modeling simulations which can be easily and frequently changed to produce knowledge out of the reach of mathematical analysis or natural experimentation alone.
The 7th Annual Regenerative Medicine Summer School was held virtually June 8-12, 2020, due to COVID-19. The program is led by Bryan Brown, PhD, Director of Educational Outreach, McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Brown is also Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Pittsburgh.
Fetal obstructive hydrocephalus causes permanent brain damage due to increased intracerebral pressure. Because of obstruction of the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), CSF accumulates within the cerebral ventricles, causing increased intracerebral pressure, which leads to decreased blood flow, as well as damage from stretch of neurons. In-utero relief of increased intracerebral pressure may result in normal brain development, thereby preventing lifelong disability.
Acute kidney injury is common in hospitalized patients, particularly those in intensive care units and older adults, and refers to a sudden episode of kidney failure or damage that happens within a few hours or days. It causes a build-up of waste products in the blood that can affect other organs, including the brain, heart, and lungs.
According to the American Cancer Society, kidney cancer is among the top ten most common cancers in men and women. More than 73,000 new cases and nearly 15,000 deaths are predicted for in the US for 2020. Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) — the most common subtype of tumor associated with kidney cancer — accounts for more than 75 percent of cases.
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine affiliated faculty member Thomas Rando, MD, PhD, is the co-founder and chair of the board of directors of Fountain Therapeutics. At Fountain Therapeutics, the research team has combined the expertise of leaders in aging research and computation to build a pipeline of therapeutics aimed at reversing cellular aging. The company’s mission is to decouple aging from disease and significantly extend human health span.