September 28, 2009

NIH gives U. of Pittsburgh $5M in grants

The National Institutes of Health has given the University of Pittsburgh $5 million to explore new ways of growing replacement cells from existing tissues.

A $2.9 million, five-year grant was presented to Professor Eric Lagasse to support development of a novel concept: using the body's many lymph nodes as sites for growing replacement cells for other tissues and organs.

Professor Ipsita Banerjee received a $2.2 million, five-year award to study how embryonic stem cells develop into mature cells and create possible techniques for influencing their growth to suit specific organs.

Lagasse's work focuses on lymph nodes, which are important in responses to bacterial and viral infection and are found throughout the body.

Our regenerative medicine approach for healing damaged tissues and organs might not have moved forward without this new grant concept, Lagasse said. This funding supports assessment and rapid translation from the bench to the bedside of nontraditional treatments.

Banerjee will investigate the process through which embryonic stem cells become mature, organ-specific cells and how scientists can control that development.

I want to take a completely different approach to addressing the complex process of cell development, which will potentially advance our understanding of regenerative medicine and stem cell bioengineering as a whole, Banerjee said.