Message from the Director

From Director Nora Sarvetnick, PhDsarvetnick

Driven by the needs of patients who seek treatment for their incurable diseases, The University of Nebraska Medical Center established the Mary and Dick Holland Regenerative Medicine Program.   Our mission is focused on bringing together forward thinking scientists and clinicians who are committed to understanding the basic science behind tissue engineering and development.  By translating these concepts we seek to pioneer regenerative therapies that can be taken into the clinic, spreading hope throughout the Nebraskan community and around the world.  While still a new program, we are proud of our ongoing innovations and successes in the areas of bone and cartilage development and remodelling, vascular regeneration, pancreas development and diabetes, and biomaterials for tissue regeneration. We look forward to further evolving and adding new faculty, initiatives, and collaborations in the coming years.

The field of regenerative medicine involves innovative medical therapies that enable the body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate damaged or diseased tissues and organs. I am honored to have the opportunity to be involved in this cutting edge scientific field that holds so much potential to help those suffering from acute and chronic conditions.

There are several avenues of Regenerative Medicine that will require many more years of research, but as we want to focus on developing therapies that can help treat patients now.  Our goal is to conduct outstanding basic research that will result in therapies and biomaterials that can be manufactured and applied in our community hospitals and facilities. This year we have added a number of excellent new faculty and staff to our program, started new initiatives and continued others into a second year, and added new equipment and facilities to advance our research and help us further towards this goal.

In order to move forward and be successful, here are some of the of growth areas that have been identified for this program:

A necessary component for the success of this project is clinical translation. Without the help of involved/collaborative clinicians here at UNMC we cannot bring our current research into the clinic. By taking a collaborative, interdisciplinary group approach we have identified critical problems in different organs or diseases and work out ways to solve them.  We hope to help grow the field of Regenerative Medicine at UNMC, but also give both junior and senior faculty the chance to participate in research and therapy development.  By focusing on adult and embryonic stem cell research and utilizing UNMC’s new Biologics Production Facility, we hope to develop new treatments that move quickly into clinical trials.

The last few months have seen the introduction of five new regenerative medicine initiatives, which are being given seed funding from the program. These extend the reach of the Regenerative Medicine Program, fostering new innovative projects. These initiatives bring together researchers and clinicians from UNMC and the engineering program at UNL to collaborate and develop novel research areas.

We are also excited to announce the development of a new Bioprinting core which will be run by one of our new faculty members. Bioprinting is literally the use of a printers to create cell matrixes to form organs. The Bioprinting Core will provide access to advanced imaging technologies enabling precise placement of cells, biomaterials, and biomolecules for regenerative medicine-related research. 3D bioprinting technology has emerged as a versatile and powerful tool for fabricating 3D tissue and organ analogs and it is thrilling to be part of this innovative research.

Overall it has been an exciting year for the Regenerative Medicine Program and I look forward to see what we achieve in the upcoming year!