Third Annual Regenerative Rehabilitation Symposium, April 10-11, 2014, San Francisco, California

Like no other time in our nation’s history, the enthusiasm surrounding regenerative regenrehab2014medicine is now being matched with clinical deliverables, and the number of clinical trials in the field is growing at an unprecedented rate. Over the next decades, stem cell and tissue engineering protocols hold the possibility of becoming the standard of care for several diseases and injuries.

As we approach this exciting new era of technological advancements, rehabilitation specialists must work closely with regenerative medicine scientists in the development of clinical protocols designed to optimize functional recovery.

Indeed, much advancement in clinical practice is occurring at the interface of regenerative medicine and rehabilitation. Consider the goals of each of these fields. The broad goal of rehabilitation is to use the body’s innate healing potential to maximize function. Accordingly, the long-term goal of regenerative medicine is to repair, replace, or regenerate cells, tissues, or organs in order to maximize tissue function.

Scientists in the field of regenerative medicine stand to benefit from increased incorporation of functional outcomes assessment when determining the therapeutic benefit of biological technologies being investigated. Moreover, as our understanding of mechanisms underlying tissue regeneration progresses, rehabilitation specialists will benefit from the continued incorporation of these emerging principles into the design of clinical protocols.

As an increasing number of technologies reach the bedside, rehabilitation clinicians must be prepared, and there is a growing need for trained therapists and physiatrists that can help oversee the quality, safety, and validity of these new clinical treatments. The application of clinically-relevant and cost-effective approaches to elicit targeted and specific physiological responses may be an effective means to maximize efficacy and, ultimately, hasten the translation of these technologies into medical practice.

Rehabilitation specialists and regenerative medicine scientists will benefit from a Picshared vision of modern day clinical practice that integrates innovative technologies with a solid foundation of approaches and modalities designed to maximize functional outcomes.

As first steps towards an increased interaction between the fields of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine, there is a need to standardize terminology, educate young scientists and investigators, and communicate active clinical trials such that clinicians may be fully aware of the latest advancements in this emerging field.

Scientists in the field of regenerative medicine should work closely with clinicians, and more specifically, rehabilitation specialists, in order to look ahead to the critical issues that will either enable or prevent the translation of their exciting technologies. Such insights should be initiated early on in the innovation and development stages of the technology in order to maximize the efficiency of clinical translation.

The proposed integration of the fields of regenerative medicine and rehabilitation has relevance to a broad scope of research interests and clinical specialties. Bridging expertise across these diverse fields will ultimately allow for illuminated opportunities to leverage scientific knowledge, expertise, and methodologies. Unfortunately, few opportunities exist to bring together scientists and clinicians working in these two currently disparate fields.

This symposium, the only one of its kind, crosses disciplinary boundaries to create a unique forum where stakeholders in the field of regenerative medicine will interact with rehabilitation clinicians and scientists to discuss the current and future landscape of the field.

The annual Regenerative Rehabilitation Symposia series is a unique opportunity for students, researchers, and clinicians working in the interrelated fields of regenerative medicine and rehabilitation to meet, exchange ideas, and generate new collaborations and clinical research questions. Jointly organized by the University of Pittsburgh Rehabilitation Institute, the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and the Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, the Third Annual Symposium on Regenerative Rehabilitation will be held on April 10-11, 2014, in San Francisco, CA, at the Mission Bay Conference Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The objectives of this event are:

  1. To promote the clinical translation of regenerative medicine scientific discoveries by communicating and disseminating research findings which demonstrate the synergistic relationship between regenerative medicine and rehabilitation;
  1. To provide a forum by which scientists and rehabilitation clinicians may interact, exchange ideas, and identify novel research directions relating to the field of regenerative rehabilitation; and
  1. To introduce the concept of regenerative rehabilitation to graduate students, medical students, and medical residents in the rehabilitation field.

To achieve these aims, a highly multidisciplinary and translational 1½-day program has been designed that includes thematically linked presentations that highlight the importance of mechanical stimulation for functional tissue regeneration. Extensive time for interaction among attendees has been incorporated into the program through the inclusion of a poster session and a poster teaser session, in which selected abstracts will be chosen and the primary author will be invited to present a short overview of their work.

New to this year’s program, we have included a “Meet the Mentor” session, in which students, fellows, clinicians, and novice investigators will be given the opportunity to meet in a small group setting with senior investigators conducting research relevant to the fields of regenerative medicine and rehabilitation. This is an excellent opportunity for students and junior investigators to become engaged in the emerging field of regenerative rehabilitation.

For more information on this event, please contact Katy Wharton at: or or 412-624-5293.

Illustrations: University of Pittsburgh.