Northwestern University Research Institutes and Centers sit at the intersections of traditional disciplines to increase the innovation, productivity, and cross-fertilization needed to solve great societal challenges.
Now, two of Northwestern’s knowledge hubs are joining forces with ARMI | BioFabUSA to develop scalable manufacturing processes for engineered tissues and organs.
One of the biggest challenges with current transplantation approaches is that physicians are almost always using a foreign organ, meaning there is a real and very serious challenge with potential rejection. Researchers hope to be able to grow new organs using a patients’ own cells to side-step rejection altogether. Another approach has investigators working to find a way to manufacture tissues that have rejection-prevention engineered into them.
Northwestern’s engagement with the ARMI initiative comes under the guidance of the Simpson Querrey Institute (SQI) and the Northwestern Initiative for Manufacturing Science and Innovation (NIMSI). SQI Director Samuel Stupp, NIMSI Director and Associate Vice President for Research Jian Cao, and SQI member and Associate Professor of Surgery Jason Wertheim are leading the effort.
“The Simpson Querrey Institute (home to the Louis A. Simpson and Kimberley Querrey Center for Regenerative Nanomedicine) has been focused on the development of biomaterials and technologies for regenerative medicine for nearly 20 years. We have a great deal to offer to the efforts at ARMI | BioFabUSA and hope to use the connections and energy to help identify future research needs,” says Stupp, Board of Trustees Professor of Materials Science and Chemistry, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering. Stupp is a world-recognized leader in the development of bioactive biomaterials for regenerative medicine of the brain, spinal cord, heart, bone, cartilage, and muscle.
“Manufacturing is an integration platform and economic driving force. Having a strong and diverse manufacturing base requires knowledge and collaborations from different fields,” says Cao, the Cardiss Collins Professor of Mechanical Engineering and an expert in innovative manufacturing processes and systems. “NIMSI was established to meet that need and has been contributing to flexible manufacturing processes, computational manufacturing, and data science in manufacturing. With SQI and NIMSI working together, Northwestern continues to offer its expertise to advance manufacturing.”
“It’s an exciting time for me as a transplant surgeon and biomedical scientist to see the technology evolve,” says Wertheim, who is a member of the National Institutes of Health’s (Re) Building-a-kidney consortium. His research group uses cell biology and bioengineering to develop liver, kidney and blood vessel tissue as a cutting-edge solution to organ shortage. “BioFabUSA is bringing together a diverse set of partners to address and solve challenging hurdles in translational regenerative medicine — and I know that I and my colleagues at SQI and Northwestern can contribute to finding those answers.”
“BioFabUSA will benefit from Northwestern’s expertise and insights to move more quickly to scalable solutions, says Mark Kleinschmit, director of research strategy and development at SQI. “In return, Northwestern researchers will gain access to teams working on the front lines of the translation effort, allowing them to better understand the details of barriers. This process will allow investigators to produce more valuable innovation outcomes.” Click to learn more about Northwestern.