McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine faculty are members of the team of collaborators receiving $4.75 million from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The grant to the University of Pittsburgh is to create the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Spinal Cord Injury. Others on the RERC team include faculty from the department of rehabilitation science and technology, the department of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and the department of occupational therapy at the University of Pittsburgh, in addition to Case Western Reserve University, Northwestern University, Baylor College of Medicine, IBM, and Immunetrics. David M. Brienza, PhD, McGowan faculty member and professor in the department of rehabilitation science and technology at Pitt, will serve as director of the RERC.
Spinal cord injuries result in a particularly debilitating array of conditions that compromise mobility, accessibility, social interactions, employment, and other important dimensions of life. The RERC will research, develop, and evaluate innovative technologies and approaches to improve the treatment, rehabilitation, employment, and reintegration into society of people with spinal cord injuries.
One critical focus of the RERC’s research will be to create mathematical models of inflammation and healing, which can vary extensively among individuals. “We believe that the occurrence of pressure ulcers, urinary tract infection, and musculoskeletal injuries that stem from spinal cord injury can be attributed to systemic inflammation,” said Dr. Brienza. “We also believe that it is necessary to understand and be able to predict responses to inflammation in order to develop novel, patient-specific therapies for spinal cord injury.”
University of Pittsburgh faculty from the departments of surgery and critical care medicine, partnering with researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, have pioneered the computational approaches to develop and calibrate models of the inflammatory process. “We now have four substantial grants that are based on computational simulation and modeling inflammation,” noted Clifford E. Brubaker, PhD, dean of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. “I believe that this research will have important and pervasive influences on the formulation of new therapeutic procedures and the practice of rehabilitation.”
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
UPMC News Bureau (10/12/07)
Pittsburgh Business Times (10/12/07)
MSN Money (10/12/07)
University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences