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National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

Thursday, October 5, 2006

Cheryl Fee

NIBIB Awards First Quantum Grant
Baylor College of Medicine Receives $2.9 Million Three-Year Grant

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced the award of the first Quantum Grant on “Neuro-Vascular Regeneration,” to the Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Karen K. Hirschi, Deputy Director of the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine is the principal investigator on the grant. Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge, Head of the Division of Developmental Genetics at the National Institute for Medical Research in London is the co-principal investigator. These investigators will coordinate the efforts within the United States and the United Kingdom, respectively, on this multidisciplinary international collaborative project.

The overall goal of this project is to engineer neuro-vascular regenerative units in a laboratory environment, which can then be implanted into the damaged cortex of stroke patients to provide a source of neural and vascular cells that will continue to develop and differentiate and lead to the repair of stroke-injured tissue.

The NIBIB Quantum Grants Program has been developed to make a profound (quantum level) advance in healthcare by funding research on targeted projects that will develop new technologies and modalities for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of disease.

“We are pleased to award our first Quantum Grant to Dr. Hirschi and her team for this innovative and exciting project,” said NIBIB Director Roderic I. Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D. “We look forward to witnessing the results that will be achieved in the animal studies and, later, as these studies are translated to humans. This project has the potential to profoundly improve the treatment of patients affected by ischemic stroke.”

Dr. Hirschi is an expert in the field of vascular development and she will coordinate the efforts of a highly qualified multidisciplinary project team with complimentary expertise in developmental neurobiology, stem cell biology, genetics, biomedical imaging, tissue engineering, and clinical cellular therapies.

“I am delighted and honored to be working with a world-class team of scientists, each of whom has significantly contributed to the advancement of their fields of research, and who will now be able to devote substantial efforts to integrating their work, so that we can better help stroke victims by developing units for neuro-vascular regeneration,” said Dr. Hirschi.

The Quantum Grant team within the United States includes Dr. Mary Dickinson, Assistant Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics at Baylor College of Medicine, who was a co-developer of this project; Dr. Jennifer West, the Cameron Professor of Bioengineering and Director of the Institute for Biosciences and Bioengineering at Rice University; Dr. Thomas Zwaka, Assistant Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine; and Dr. Malcolm Brenner, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, and the Director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine.

The Quantum Grant team within the United Kingdom will be led by the project’s co-principle investigator Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge, an expert in genetics and developmental biology, and includes Dr. Jack Price, Professor of Developmental Neurobiology, and the Director of the Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London; and Dr. Mike Modo, a Lecturer in the Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College.

“Progress in science often occurs when separate disciplines collide, each able to contribute something special towards solving a problem. This is why I am so excited about the research that will be supported by this award,” said Dr. Lovell-Badge. “The grant will allow us to discover new information about stem cells in the brain, how they can be manipulated within and outside the body and, we hope, facilitate the development of a treatment for stroke, one of the most common causes of disability, severely affecting quality of life of patients throughout the world.”

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is dedicated to improving human health through the integration of the physical and biological sciences. The research agenda of the NIBIB seeks to dramatically advance the Nation’s health by improving the detection, management, understanding, and ultimately, the prevention of disease through technology. Additional information and publications are available at www.nibib.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.

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