Regenerative Medicine Physician Named R&D Magazine's 2016 Innovator of the Year

R & D MAGAZINE | Anna Spiewak

The director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and the W. Boyce professor and chair of Urology at Wake Forest University has been recognized by R&D Magazine for his advancements in the growth and regeneration of tissues and organs. (Credit: Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine)

Anthony Atala, M.D., is a pediatric surgeon by training. He often performs surgery on his youngest and most vulnerable patients. And it’s no easy task for him.

“There’s nothing more devastating than being in the operating room and doing surgery on patients where you’re putting things in that really don’t belong there, but you know that’s the only option you have. And you know that they’re prone to cause problems, but you don’t have a better option,” he told R&D Magazine in an exclusive interview.

This is why the director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) became a pioneer in growing and regenerating tissues and organs via 3D bioprinting. WFIRM is a leader in translating scientific discovery into clinical therapies. The institute’s scientists were the first in the world to successfully implant a laboratory-grown organ into humans in 1999—the bladder. His team has gone on to implant laboratory grown urethras and vaginas into patients. Ten technologies developed at the institute have been used clinically.

“Having engineered tissue that’s made out of a patient’s own cells—to replace tissue with tissue—that’s really the goal,” he said. Continue reading