At 30, Karen Christman, an assistant bioengineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, plans to help fuel the growing field of tissue engineering. With a new $1.5 million New Innovator Award grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Christman will be able to do just that.
The awards, announced Sept. 22, were created in 2007 to support a small number of new investigators who have exceptional creativity and propose bold and highly innovative new research approaches that have the potential to produce a major breakthrough on broad, important problems in biomedical and behavioral research.
Christman will use the five-year grant to further her research in developing a novel and innovative multi-layer patterning technique that will provide step-by-step cues for cell and tissue development.
"One of my major goals is to develop differentiated cell sources," said Christman, who joined the Jacobs School faculty in 2007 after earning a Ph.D in bioengineering from UC San Francisco and UC Berkeley. "For example, one of the major problems with stem cells either embryonic or adult is that we can't control their fate as well as we would like to. So, if you're going to inject cells into the heart, for example, you want the cells to mainly be cardiac muscle cells. What most people have done is try to promote the cell differentiation through adding soluble factors to cell culture. Nothing has been developed that mimics how the extracellular matrix morphs over time. And, this matrix is known to play a large role in cell survival and fate."
"If you can better mimic what the cell sees inside of the body then we should be able to better control cell fate," she added. "It's basically being able to generate cell sources and trying to control cell behavior. This could be used for all sorts of regenerative medicine approaches."
Many medical researchers believe that regenerative medicine which accelerat
|Contact: Andrea Siedsma|
University of California - San Diego