McGowan Institute Deputy Director Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, is a featured presenter at the upcoming October conference, “Pop!Tech 2008: Scarcity and Abundance,” being held in Camden, Maine. Dr. Badylak has had significant success with a remarkable powder that he headed the development of which led two patients to re-grow severed fingertips in just 6 weeks. The powder was derived from pig bladders and contained multiple growth factors that are effective in humans. At Pop!Tech, Dr. Badylak will detail his work to help Iraqi war veterans re-grow body parts lost in battle.
Recognizing the need for novel approaches that can restore, even partially, the structure and function of lost or damaged tissues, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) previously awarded a $3.7 million grant to the University of Pittsburgh's McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine to oversee an ambitious, multi-center research program to better understand the intricate processes involved in wound healing and tissue restoration. A large part of the team's effort involves examining the cellular and molecular systems that allow certain animals to completely regenerate lost tissue. The ultimate goal of the research is to identify ways for enhancing the capacity for wound healing and tissue restoration in humans.
Also, the McGowan Institute is the co-leader of a national $42 million program to use the science of regenerative medicine to develop new treatments for wounded soldiers. The new federally funded institute—the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM)—is made up of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research and a national consortium of institutions led, in part, by the McGowan Institute. The massive project is dedicated to repairing battlefield injuries through the use of regenerative medicine, science that takes advantage of the body’s natural healing powers to restore or replace damaged tissue and organs. Therapies developed by AFIRM also will benefit people in the civilian population with burns or severe trauma due to illness or injury. The five focus areas of research of AFIRM are: Compartment syndrome, functional limb and digit, craniofacial reconstruction, wound healing, and burn repair.
The need for such technologies is paramount; while U.S. soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are surviving injuries that in previous conflicts likely would have been fatal, the number of wounded with major tissue loss has never before been so high. Such injuries – the partial or complete loss of digits or limbs and deforming facial injuries – have profoundly affected the quality of life of the wounded as well as presented a new set of challenges for the medical community faced with treating them.
"We sincerely believe that the ability to promote tissue restoration in humans is not only possible, it will in fact be a reality some day. By working as a team and capitalizing on our collective expertise and experience, we're in a better position to succeed at unlocking the regenerative potential of mammals than would be possible working in the silos of our individual labs," said Dr. Badylak, coordinator of the DARPA effort, research professor in the department of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and Director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering at the McGowan Institute. The investigators believe their goal is attainable due to a convergence of recent discoveries made in their labs as well as at other institutions in the areas of stem cell research, extracellular matrix biochemistry, and the regulation of gene expression.
For the twelfth year, the Pop!Tech Conference will again convene a network of 600 remarkable thinkers, doers, leaders, and global change agents in science, technology, social innovation, business, environmentalism, globalization, media, education, and many other fields for a 4-day exploration of ideas shaping the future. This year, the conference’s focus will pay particular attention to the 21st century dynamics between systems based on scarcity and those based on abundance, in areas ranging from digital social networks to environmentalism, from biology to business, from peacemaking to politics. Pop!Tech will chart the core scarcities that humanity will face in this century, and how a wealth of new innovations, new bottom-up approaches to collaboration, and new insights into collective wisdom might hold the key to addressing them. Expected will be incredible performances, jaw-dropping technology demonstrations, spirited discussions, formal debates, and surprises throughout.
Illustration: McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Pop!Tech Presentation: Dr. Stephen Badylak
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine In the News
Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine
Pop!Tech 2008: Scarcity and Abundance
Bio: Stephen F. Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD