Community Service to Research: Live On Nebraska

by Elizabeth Kumru, UNMC public relations | March 05, 2019

Image with file name: Live_On0305.jpg

It all started with a conversation in a morgue in 2012.

The Douglas County Coroner was talking to Alexey Kamenskiy, Ph.D., and Jason MacTaggart, M.D., associate professors, surgery, about the organ and tissue donor organization, Live On Nebraska.

That conversation led to discussions, which led to a collaboration that has created the largest database pertaining to human arteries in the world. The database is interlinked with mechanical, structural and demographic characteristics of these arteries.

This most valuable collaboration with a community organization -- one that offers life and hope - will be recognized with the presentation of UNMC's Community Service to Research Award to Live On Nebraska at the Distinguished Scientist Awards ceremony.

The ceremony is set for today from 4-6 p.m. in the Durham Research Center Auditorium.

Live On Nebraska, formerly known as the Nebraska Organ Recovery System, provides UNMC's surgery department with human arterial tissues from organ and tissue donors.

One of 58 organ procurement organizations throughout the country, Live On Nebraska is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to saving and healing lives through organ and tissue donation. It serves Nebraska and Pottawattamie County, Iowa.

In the past six years, Live On Nebraska has provided UNMC laboratories with arteries from 593 human subjects in a wide range of ages and continues to provide tissue almost daily, Dr. Kamenskiy said.

"The critical data we have obtained from this collaboration enables us to develop exciting therapies that improve the health and wellness of our community," he said.

"It's a very unique resource that few academic institutions in the world have access to."

The collaboration provided the data required to secure $5 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense to work on projects that required human arterial tissues.

A small fragment of these data have been published in 10 peer-reviewed manuscripts and presented at countless professional meetings, Dr. Kamenskiy said. "Many more grant and manuscript submissions using these new exciting findings of human artery function and pathophysiology will follow in years to come."

Dr. Kamenskiy will present the award to Live On Nebraska's Kyle Herber, CEO, and Thomas Woodford, chief operating officer.

"This is a big honor for us, but the real credit belongs to donors and their families who want to advance research," Herber said. "This research is possible because of them. Credit also goes to our staff who recover those precious gifts and honor the wishes of the donors."

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