Forging the path to regenerative
Symposium kicks off institute
Ivy Foundation helps endow four
By Fariss Samarrai
growing healthy new tissue to replace diseased or damaged parts
of your body.
but the science for such a scenario was being presented at the
inaugural symposium of U.Va.s new Morphogenesis and Regenerative
Medicine Institute last week, which brought together some of the
top researchers in the field including a Nobel laureate.
The event was kick-started by the announcement of a $3 million
Ivy Foundation gift to endow four new chairs at the institute.
is a momentous occasion, said Vice
President and Provost Gene Block. The Ivy Foundation
is giving us the start we need.
created the Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute
to unify and integrate its strong research programs in cell biology,
genetics and biomedical engineering. The goal is to create a world-class,
multidisciplinary research institute engaging in cutting-edge
areas of basic and medical research.
is the process by which cells differentiate into tissues, and
tissues develop structures to form organs. Understanding these
processes is one of the most difficult problems in the biological
medicine is a promising branch of medicine in which diseases are
treated with therapies that directly target developing cells and
tissues. Scientific study of morphogenesis is expected to lead
to regenerative therapies to help prevent birth defects, control
abnormal tissue growth such as tumors, and to repair or slow the
damage of tissues from aging, disease or injury. It may even lead
to the ability to produce replacement tissues and organs for transplantation.
Wieschaus, professor of molecular biology at Princeton University
and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine,
gave the symposiums keynote talk May 19. He discussed the
science of trying to understand how cells organize to form tissues
Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute is directed
by Barry Gumbiner, chairman of the Department
of Cell Biology and a leader in the field of morphogenesis
research. He came to the University a year ago to open the institute.
said the institute will expand on the current revolution in genetics,
genomics, and molecular and cell biology with a goal to discover
the basic principles underlying the ways in which cells form,
organize, maintain, regenerate and repair the three-dimensional
structures of tissues and organs.
have the chance to be among the best in the world in these fields,
Gumbiner said. The challenge is to do it faster than other
said that by working from an already solid base, and being forward-thinking,
the institute is poised to take the lead. The University
will begin recruiting the chaired faculty this summer, he said,
with the aim of having them at the University by the fall. He
said he expects the institute to have a significant effect on
the practice of innovative medicine, and will develop educational
and training programs for outstanding young scientists and physicians.
recognized Gumbiner for doing a remarkable job of taking
us to where we are today. He is building a team of people who
are fun to work with and who have a dream.