Agenda for the University of Virginia

The concept of the Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute arose through the deliberation of faculty members in the Virginia 2020 planning initiative about future directions for life sciences at the University of Virginia. The goal was to identify topics in which the University of Virginia could build on existing strengths in biomedical sciences to become an international leader in research and education.

The planning group also sought an area of integrative biology that would take advantage of, and also look beyond, the current revolution in genetics, genomics, and molecular and cell biology in order to meet a major new scientific challenge worthy of the University's long-term commitment. The group identified Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine (initially called “Biodifferentiation”) as a broad-based, thematic, and integrative initiative in which to make a major long term investment. This initiative also is expected to have significant impact on the practice of medicine, and will create opportunities to develop educational and training programs to prepare outstanding young scholars for the future of biological and medical sciences.

The Interdisciplinary Program

The University of Virginia is well positioned to make a major impact in morphogenesis and regenerative medicine. It already possesses remarkable strengths in the basic fields of cell adhesion, cell motility, cell signaling, and nuclear functions, as well as in developmental biology, cardiovascular biology, and biomedical engineering. The physical proximity of the three principal schools-the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of Medicine -is a major asset, and a significant competitive advantage. With the strategic addition of key faculty members to fill in the gaps and expand the scope of scientific investigation in this area, it will be possible to create the world's leading research program in morphogenesis and regenerative medicine.

Leadership, Planning Committee, and Administration

Institute Director and Planning Committee Chair: Dr. Barry M. Gumbiner, Chair, Department of Cell Biology, School of Medicine

Institute Co-director: Dr. Raymond Keller, Chair, Department of Biology, College of Arts and Sciences

Associate Director: Dr. Doug Desimone, Department of Cell Biology

Planning Committee: A group of ten faculty members from the three principal schools (the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the School of Medicine) is working to develop a program for the Institute, to plan and initiate a strategy for recruiting new faculty members, to develop plans for a new building to house the Institute, and to organize the intellectual community in Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine at UVA.

Administration: As one of the university-wide Virginia 2020 initiatives, the Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute will be administered through the Office of the Vice-President for Research and Graduate Programs. Other Virginia 2020 science and technology initiatives administered by this office include Nanoscale and Quantum Engineering, and Information Science and Technology, which are also interdisciplinary university-wide efforts.

Future Home for the Institute in a New Building

To make the University of Virginia the national and international leader in this endeavor, it will be necessary to expand the faculty in several key areas. While initial growth of the Institute will occur in existing research facilities, the plans are to house the Institute in a new interdisciplinary research and education building. The building will be centrally located between the School of Medicine, School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the College of Arts and Sciences in order to create a common scientific community, in the spirit of Jefferson's academical village. The building is envisioned to have sufficient laboratory space for up to forty faculty/principal investigators, a vivarium for on-site animal work, a lecture hall, and conference/classroom area. We also anticipate including an informal cafeteria facility that would greatly facilitate interactions between faculty, students and staff and enhance the role of the Institute as a campus meeting area in addition to its role in housing the programs of the resident faculty. Core facilities for powerful common research technologies, such as imaging technology, will serve both the institute and the rest of the UVA scientific community. The faculty will be drawn from the three schools: approximately five to ten from existing faculty, the rest from new recruitments. There are additional plans to establish a nationally competitive Fellows Program in Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine to provide research space and resources to exceptionally talented and independent young postdoctoral scientists to establish their research programs before they embark on their tenure-track faculty careers.

In Conclusion

The establishment of the Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute is an outstanding opportunity for the University of Virginia to become the leading institution in this highly promising area of scholarship, basic research, and translational/clinical research. Its multidisciplinary nature will provide many opportunities for exciting new educational and research initiatives between faculty of the various schools, and it has extraordinary promise to fulfill the goals of the Virginia 2020 strategic plan.

Copyright 2017 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia
Morphogenesis and Regenerative Medicine Institute
University of Virginia • PO Box 800732 • Charlottesville, VA 22908-0732
Last Modified: 2011