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July 24, 2003

NIH awards $1.5 million training grant to McGowan Institute

This week, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded a grant of more than $1.5 million to Pitt’s McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine to establish a training program for bioengineers that is the first of its kind at an academic medical center.

The Cellular Approaches to Tissue Engineering and Regeneration (CATER) program targets students pursuing doctoral degrees in bioengineering or cellular and molecular pathology at the University of Pittsburgh.

“We seek to accommodate the unique needs of graduate students who want to become researchers in regenerative medicine,” said Alan Russell, director of the McGowan Institute and CATER program director. “These are the individuals who will drive discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic.”

CATER courses will combine the characteristics of engineering and the life sciences necessary for scientists in the growing field of regenerative medicine, said Robert Bowser, program co-director and associate professor of pathology at Pitt’s School of Medicine.

“Research in this field is often accomplished by generating collaborations among individuals in various university departments, each with their own expertise and experience,” said Bowser. “But part of the training is missing, and that is the ability to understand and use technologies available to the bioengineers and the life scientists. CATER provides educational training encompassing both fields.”

Program organizers hope to enroll eight students in the NIH-funded course of study for the fall semester, he added.

“We are looking to provide a foundation of learning to support a productive, independent career in cellular and tissue-based therapy for human disease and injury,” said Russell. “This involves a highly interdisciplinary effort, but it is one which the University of Pittsburgh, through the McGowan Institute, is perfectly suited to supply.”

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