McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
Director Alan Russell, PhD, and faculty members Stefan Schneeberger, MD, and Fabrisia Ambrosio, PhD, recently participated in the University of Pittsburgh and Walter Reed Army Medical Center-sponsored State of the Science Workshop: Regenerative Rehabilitation. The workshop, co-directed by McGowan Institute faculty members Rory Cooper, PhD, and Michael Boninger, MD, was held at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and provided a forum for scientists, research pioneers, and leaders in regenerative medicine and rehabilitation to present their latest findings.
In his opening presentation, “The Current and Potential Impact of Regenerative Rehabilitation,” Dr. Russell stated, “Regenerative medicine: it’s not futuristic medicine anymore.” He explained how regenerative medicine is about harnessing the body’s natural ability to heal itself. He also emphasized the need for regenerative and rehabilitative medicine to work together to create an interdisciplinary effort to shorten the time between the lab and bedside.
The workshop also covered topics in living tissue, tissue engineering, cell signaling for regeneration, and hand transplantation. Dr. Schneeberger provided an update on composite tissue allotransplantation in his presentation, “Current Status of Hand Transplantation.” Dr. Ambrosio spoke of improving muscle regeneration in her talk, “Cellular Rehabilitation to Enhance Musculoskeletal Function.” The first prototype of a robotic wheelchair, technology developed through the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, was also demonstrated.
According to the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, established by the Department of Defense, regenerative medicine will develop new products and therapies to treat severe injuries suffered by U.S. servicemembers in current wars.
“It’s really interesting science and we want to make sure, again, as new discoveries are made in the labs across the country, that we’re prepared for them and thinking about how we can use them to care for injured servicemembers,” explained Col. Paul Pasquina, chief of the integrated Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at Walter Reed and a co-founder of the symposium.
Dr. Russell is University Professor of Surgery and has secondary appointments in the departments of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering, and Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology. Additionally, Dr. Russell is the Executive Director of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative and Director of the National Tissue Engineering Center. Dr. Schneeberger is director of the Composite Tissue Allotransplantation Program in the Division of Plastic Surgery at UPMC and a professor of Surgery. Dr. Ambrosia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh and also the co-director of the Clinical Translation/Rehabilitation Lab of the Stem Cell Research Center. Dr. Cooper is the FISA/PVA Endowed Chair and a Distinguished Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Pittsburgh. He is also the Center Director at the Center of Excellence for Wheelchair and Related Technology, VA Rehabilitation Research & Development Center, and a Senior Research Career Scientist at the VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, Dr. Cooper holds a secondary appointment as Professor in both the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and of Mechanical Engineering and Bioengineering. Dr. Boninger is chair and professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and has secondary appointments in Bioengineering and Rehabilitation Science and Technology. He is also an associate dean for medical student research in the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition, he is director of the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury.
Illustration: University of Pittsburgh and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
State of the Science Workshop: Regenerative Rehabilitation (11/13/09)
Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine
Human Engineering Research Laboratories
Bio: Dr. Alan Russell
Bio: Dr. Stefan Schneeberger
Bio: Dr. Fabrisia Ambrosio
Bio: Dr. Rory Cooper
Bio: Dr. Michael Boninger