The research efforts of McGowan Institute faculty member and plastic surgeon J. Peter Rubin, MD, were recognized with the 2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) during a ceremony in Washington D.C. This award is the nation’s highest honor for scientists who are early in their research careers.
According to the White House, the PECASE is given to recognize and support researchers whose early work shows exceptional promise for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the twenty-first century. Awardees are nominated by one of eight federal departments, who provide the researchers with up to five years of funding to further their research. Dr. Rubin was nominated by the National Institutes of Health which has supported his research grant, “Injectable Engineered Tissue for Cancer Reconstruction.”
Dr. Rubin, who is assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director of the Adipose Stem Cell Center, was recognized for his groundbreaking research on using fat-derived stem cells to engineer soft tissue. This technology may one day be used to generate replacement tissue for breast cancer survivors.
“The use of stem cells to treat disease or regenerate tissue is believed to hold promise because of their potential to both actively participate in the healing process and develop into different specialized cell types. When exposed to specific conditions in the laboratory, fat-derived stem cells have been shown to transform into the same cell types found in fat, bone, cartilage, nerve, muscle, and blood vessels,” said Dr. Rubin, who also is director of the Life After Weight Loss Surgical Body Contouring Program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
The Presidential Award is the premier honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. The White House following recommendations from participating agencies confers the awards annually. To be eligible for a Presidential Award, an individual must be a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident. Selection criteria and processes are dependent upon the agency.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
UPMC News Bureau (11/02/07)
The Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering, NIH Office of Extramural Research