Inaugural Symposium Spotlights Regenerative Medicine

Christina Muratore, PhD, of Neurology, shares her work with Benjamin Humphreys, MD, PhD, co-chair of the BWH Regenerative Medicine Center, at the center’s inaugural symposium.

Regenerative medicine is an exciting, emerging field that studies how cells in the body can be replaced or recreated to make new tissues and organs that can, in turn, be used to treat disease.

The BWH Regenerative Medicine Center conducts a wide array of regenerative medicine research, some of which was showcased at its inaugural symposium on June 11.

Hosted by the BWH Biomedical Research Institute in the Bornstein Amphitheater and organized by Paul Lerou, MD, center steering committee member, the symposium consisted of nine talks covered in three sessions. The first session featured scientists doing work in basic developmental biology (the process by which organisms develop and grow) and undeveloped embryonic cells. These cells can transform into specific cells to serve certain functions in the body. The second session focused on adult stem cells and their possible contributions to treating diseases, and the third session gave the audience a peek into the futuristic but real world of regenerative medicine technologies.

“Like aviator, inventor and explorer Charles Lindbergh, the feats of these speakers will have societal impact,” said Jeff Karp, PhD, of BWH’s Division of Biomedical Engineering, as he introduced the third session of regenerative medicine presenters.

The diverse research portfolios shared during the event ranged from uncovering the molecular process behind how a salamander regrows its limbs to developing livers the size of a contact lens that could be used to screen for new drug treatments or in liver transplantation.

The symposium concluded with a keynote address by Robert Lanza, MD, an adjunct professor in the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Lanza spoke about the promising clinical applications of stem cells.

“I think we’re all excited about what regenerative medicine can do for our patients,” said Richard Lee, MD, director of the BWH Regenerative Medicine Center, who presented his work on reversing the aging process of the heart. “But as scientists, sometimes the challenges seem so daunting that it feels like we won’t be able to turn those dreams into reality. The first symposium provided a glimpse of the future, a window into how much we will accomplish if we work together.”