NIBIB awards University of Miami a $735,000 grant to develop a bioreactor system for tissue engineering

The NIH/National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering has awarded the UM College of Engineering a grant to advance the technology for a bioreactor capable of monitoring online changes in tissue growth

A new grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will provide funding for University of Miami (UM) College of Engineering researchers to develop a novel bioreactor system that will control mechano-electrochemical environment for tissue growth and also provide on-line monitoring for the properties of engineered tissues. The two-year, $735,000 grant will fund the work of Drs. Weiyong Gu and Charles Huang, professors in the department of biomedical engineering, to develop the novel bioreactor system for engineering tissue in vitro for implantation in vivo.

"Congratulations to Dr Gu and Dr. Huang for being awarded such a prestigious grant on behalf of the College of Engineering," says Dean James M. Tien, Ph.D., NAE. "Funding from the NIH/NIBIB serves the college and university, and also opens lines of inquiry and exploration about how technology can be applied to reengineering the human body, a key focus of the College's research thrusts," adds Tien.

Tissue engineering research aims to develop functional substitutes for diseased or damaged tissues. In order to succeed, the mechano-electrochemical environment in tissue culture needs to be optimized.

"The new bioreactor system will provide innovative technology for tissue engineering, thus facilitating the development of functional replacement tissues that can be used in repairing damaged tissue, such as cartilage and intervertebral discs," says Huang.

There are two stages to the proposed project. The first stage will be to design and develop the bioreactor system and the second will test the system. This technology will help scientists understand the mechanisms of tissue growth and tissue degeneration.

"The broad, long-term objectives of the work are to elucidate the causes of intervertebral disc degeneration, to develop strategies for restoring tissue function or retarding further disc degeneration and to develop novel, less-invasive diagnostic tools for disc degeneration," says Gu.

The grant provides an invaluable opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students in the College of Engineering to work hands-on with essential research and development in biomedical imaging and bioengineering.

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