Stem cell research center gets NSF support

Stem cell research is on the verge of impacting many elements of medicine, but scientists haven’t yet worked out the processes needed to manufacture sufficient quantities of stem cells for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes.

Todd McDevitt and Robert Nerem

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $3 million to Georgia Tech to fund a center that will develop engineering methods for stem cell production. The program’s co-leaders are Todd McDevitt, PhD, an associate professor in the Georgia Tech/Emory Department of Biomedical Engineering and Robert Nerem, director of the Emory/Georgia Tech Center for Regenerative Medicine (GTEC), which will administer the award.

“Successfully integrating knowledge of stem cell biology with bioprocess engineering and process development is the challenging goal of this program,” says McDevitt.

“This program provides a unique opportunity for engineers to generate standardized and quantitative methods for stem cell isolation, characterization, propagation and differentiation,” says Nerem. “These techniques must be developed in a scalable manner to efficiently produce sufficient numbers of stem cells and derivatives.”

The award also will support 30 new Ph.D. students for five years and brings together more than two dozen faculty members from Georgia Tech, Emory, UGA, and Morehouse School of Medicine.  Research collaborations also are under development with the National University of Ireland at Galway, Imperial College London, the University of Cambridge and the University of Toronto.

The award comes through the NSF’s Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) Program, which supports innovation in graduate education in fields that cross academic disciplines and have broad societal impact.

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Holly Korschun

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