The ARMI/BioFabUSA Blog recently caught up with Dr. Richard A. Galbraith, MD, PhD, Vice President for Research at the University of Vermont (UVM) for a Question & Answer session.
ARMI: What do you see as the first breakthrough in Regenerative Medicine?
Dr. Galbraith: “Ever since the photos of the Vacanti Mouse were first published in 1997, the promise of engineered tissues has captured the imagination of millions. Since that first promising glimpse of its potential, we have been playing catch-up with many of the ideas and concepts.
Regenerative medicine still has great progress to make, but it is already clinically useful for tissues such as bone, cartilage and skin. The next wave of breakthroughs will be in more complex organs such as the heart, liver, kidneys and lungs. This will encompass both ex vivo generation of functional organs for transplantation, as well as new generations of organ support devices such as portable dialysis units or novel lung assist devices. Such applications will likely be available within the next several years.”
“Regenerative medicine as a field is on the verge of transforming the treatment of disease and disability, as the research breakthroughs of the past decade move into the world of practical medicine. Our membership in ARMI/BioFabUSA both recognizes UVM as a leader in this rapidly emerging area and provides an opportunity for the University to advance even further.”
ARMI: how did UVM find out about the DoD Project and ARMI? And, what does UVM bring to the community and what would UVM like to gain from the community?
Dr. Galbraith: “UVM has followed the development of ARMI/BioFabUSA Lab since its inception last year and was further inspired to become a member at the recommendation of our corporate partners in regenerative medicine.
There is a robust regenerative medicine community at UVM - primarily focused in the Colleges of Medicine and Engineering/Mathematical Sciences. Focus areas include novel strategies for regeneration and repair of pulmonary and cardiac tissues, as well as bioengineering device development. Importantly, UVM has a number of cores, including: Biostatistics, Blood Bank, Instrumentation and Technical Services, Informatics, Microscopy and Imaging, MRI Center for Biomedical Imaging, Proteomics, Small and Large Animal Facilities, Stem Cell, and Transgenic Animal that support and contribute to the overall Regenerative Medicine infrastructure and activities.
UVM also sponsors a bi-annual conference on “Stem Cells, Cell Therapies, and Bioengineering in Lung Biology and Diseases,” that is the leading international conference in these rapidly progressing areas.
UVM is developing a formalized multi-disciplinary regenerative medicine program focused on basic science, commercialization, entrepreneurship and biotechnology training under the leadership of Drs. Daniel J. Weiss and Jeff Spees. The University also has a robust biomedical engineering program. An undergraduate degree program in that discipline, under the leadership of Jason Bates and Jeff Frolik, recently augmented existing Masters and Doctoral Degree Programs. These programs will support and augment the rich regenerative medicine community at UVM.
The ARMI/BioFabUSA ecosystem of companies will give our students exceptional networking, internship and employment opportunities. The connections our faculty make with corporations in the consortium will provide us an early stage understanding of market needs that has the potential to translate to new curriculum and give UVM graduates a significant competitive edge in the marketplace.”
ARMI: Can you talk about the need for ‘new talent’ for this industry and what UVM is doing in Education, Workforce Development (EWD)?
Dr. Galbraith: “UVM is positioned to support emerging talent needs in biofabrication and regenerative manufacturing.
Our Biomedical Engineering program represents a full talent pipeline, from undergraduate to PhD, and is jointly managed through our College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences and the Larner College of Medicine. These students are eager to connect with emerging industries and we are excited to work with the ARMI consortium to create agile and responsive curriculum and experiential learning opportunities that will connect our students with this rapidly changing industry.”
ARMI: What is your view on ‘standards’ for a new industry? How can ARMI assist there?
Dr. Galbraith: “UVM recognizes that we live in a time of disruption and opportunity. For higher education institutions to keep pace, we need to be at the table and engaged as industries transform and take shape. Biofabrication and regenerative manufacturing is an industry with high potential for university research partnerships and talent cultivation. We feel that ARMI, with its affiliated academic and industrial partners, can play a pivotal role in helping to establish standards and best practices.”