PITTSBURGH (May 18, 2016) … With the goal of advancing regenerative medicine therapies, a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University has received a five-year, $1.4 million grant from the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide training in biomechanical engineering principles and biology to students pursuing a doctoral degree in bioengineering.
“Training in Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine” (BiRM) is funded through the NIH’s
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering’s T32 grant program. The program director and principal investigator is
Savio L-Y. Woo, PhD, D.Sc., D.Eng., Distinguished University Professor of Bioengineering in the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering and the founder and director of the
Musculoskeletal Research Center (MSRC) at Pitt. He is joined by co-investigators,
James Antaki, PhD, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, and
David Vorp, PhD, Associate Dean for Research and the William Kepler Whiteford Professor of Bioengineering at the Swanson School.
According to Drs. Woo, Antaki and Vorp, regenerative medicine uses methods including tissue engineering, cellular therapies, biosurgery and artificial and biohybrid organ devices, to address tissue/organ insufficiency. Yet despite several early successes, bioengineers have faced challenges in repairing or replacing tissues
that serve a predominantly biomechanical function. The Pitt-CMU program aims to bridge that gap by training students in both biomechanical engineering principles and biology.
“Regenerative medicine is at a critical juncture in its evolution, and Pitt and CMU are uniquely positioned to create an interdisciplinary program to benefit our graduate students,” Dr. Woo said. “Since the BiRM program is not central to any one department, it provides students with both fundamental knowledge and
problem-solving skills as well as inter-departmental didactic and research experiences, and specialized training in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship.”
To develop these diverse skills, BiRM incorporates faculty from Pitt’s departments of
Civil and Environmental Engineering, and
Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science in the Swanson School of Engineering; Carnegie Mellon’s departments of
Biomedical Engineering and
Mechanical Engineering; and Pitt’s
Schools of the Health Sciences, including the
School of Dental Medicine,
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, and
Division of Cardiology. BiRM faculty also have appointments in the joint Pitt-CMU
Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute and the
McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Dr. Woo noted that during BiRM's first two cohorts, 30 students gained a solid foundation for productive and independent careers in academia, industry, and medicine spanning a wide range of physiological systems including orthopedics, vascular surgery, dentistry, urology, and others. Over the next five years, the
Pitt-CMU partnership seeks to sponsor six pre-doctoral fellowships per year corresponding to approximately 14 additional fellowships over the course of the program, as well as to allow further development of the curriculum and increase the emphasis on clinical translation of biomechanics and regenerative medicine
Contact: Paul Kovach