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TERMIS AM 2017 Awardees

Joseph P. Vacanti, MD - Lifetime Achievement Award

John Homans Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Chief, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Emeritus
Surgeon-in-Chief, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Emeritus
Co-Director, Center for Regenerative Medicine, MGH
Director, Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication, MGH

Dr. Joseph Vacanti received his Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, from Creighton University in 1970 and graduated first in his class.  He received his MD, with high distinction, from University of Nebraska College of Medicine, and an MS from Harvard Medical School. He trained in General Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital, in Pediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital, Boston, and Transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh.

As an academic surgeon, Dr. Vacanti has been active in clinical innovation as well as basic research.  He instituted New England’s first successful pediatric ECMO program in 1984 while at Children’s Hospital Boston. As well, he began the nation’s first liver transplantation program specifically for the pediatric population.  Dr. Vacanti has been working in the field of tissue engineering since its beginning in the early 1980s – a mission that stems from his long-held interest in solving the problem of organ shortages.  His approach to developing tissue involves a scaffold made of a biodegradable polymer, seeding it with living cells, and bathing it in growth factors.  The cells can come from living tissue or stem cells. The cells multiply, filling the scaffold, and growing into a three-dimensional tissue.  Once implanted in the body, the cells recreate their proper tissue function, blood vessels grow into the new tissue, the scaffold degrades, and lab-grown tissue becomes indistinguishable from its surroundings.  Over the last 15 years, Dr. Vacanti has studied creating complete vascular networks as part of implantable tissue engineered devices which then allows the fabrication of large, complex living structures such as vital organs, extremities or craniofacial reconstruction. To further the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, Dr. Vacanti was a founding co-president of the Tissue Engineering Society, now named the Tissue Engineering Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). It currently has 5000 active members from 80 countries worldwide. He also was founding senior editor of the journal “Tissue Engineering.” It currently serves all of the members of TERMIS, 1700 libraries in 20 countries, and is provided free online to 106 developing nations.  It has over 250,000 full text downloads and 500,000 abstract downloads per year with an impact factor of approximately 4.5

Dr. Vacanti has held academic appointments at Harvard Medical School since 1974.  He has authored over 320 original reports, 69 book chapters, 54 reviews, and over 473 abstracts.  He has 81 patents or patents pending in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan.  Dr. Vacanti has been the recipient of numerous awards for his contributions in surgery as well as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

Dr. John P. Fisher - Senior Scientist Award

Dr. John P. Fisher is the Fischell Family Distinguished Professor and Department Chair in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland.  Dr. Fisher is also the Director of the newly established NIH Center for Engineering Complex Tissue (CECT) that aims to create a broad community focusing on 3D printing and bioprinting for regenerative medicine applications.  Dr. Fisher completed a B.S. in biomedical and chemical engineering at The Johns Hopkins University (1995), M.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Cincinnati (1998), Ph.D. in bioengineering at Rice University (2003), and postdoctoral fellowship in cartilage biology and engineering at the University of California Davis (2003).

As the Director of the Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory, Dr. Fisher’s group investigates biomaterials, stem cells, bioprinting, and bioreactors for the regeneration of lost tissues, particularly bone, cartilage, and cardiovascular tissues.  Initially, the laboratory developed a novel class of biodegradable polymers, based upon an acetal monomer, that result in non-acidic degradation products upon hydrolysis.  The laboratory utilized these, and other polymer systems (both natural and synthetic) to create biomimetic environments for cell culture and, critically, demonstrated the relationship between cell microenvironment and endogenous protein signal expression.  Subsequent efforts focused on the development of a novel perfusion bioreactor for dynamic cell culture.  Most recently, Dr. Fisher’s laboratory has developed strategies for the 3D printing of a variety of tissue engineering biomaterials and scaffolds.

Overall, the laboratory has published over 140 articles, book chapters, and proceedings (4900+ citations / 39 h-index) as well as delivered over 285 invited and contributed presentations, while utilizing over $15M in financial support from NIH, NSF, FDA, NIST, DoD, and other institutions.  Fisher has advised 8 postdoctoral fellows (3 current), 23 doctoral students (12 current), 6 Master students, and supported the research activities of over 65 undergraduates (8 current).  Students in Dr. Fisher’s laboratory have received a number of awards and honors: University of Maryland Undergraduate Researcher of the Year (3), Bioengineering Department Outstanding Graduate Researcher of the Year (2), NSF Graduate Fellows (2), AHA Graduate Fellow (3), NIH Postdoctoral Fellow (1), Fulbright Fellow (2), and TERMIS / Mary Ann Liebert Outstanding Student (1).

Fisher has been elected Fellow of both the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2012) and the Biomedical Engineering Society (2016).  Fisher has received the NSF CAREER Award (2005), Arthritis Foundation’s Investigator Award (2006), Outstanding Graduate Alumnus Award from the Department of Bioengineering at Rice University (2007), Engalitcheff Award from the Arthritis Foundation (2008), Next Power Professorship from Tsing Hua University in Taiwan (2015), and a Fulbright Fellowship to study at the National University of Ireland, Galway (2015).  At the University of Maryland, Fisher has received the Invention of the Year Award (2006 & 2014), First Place in the Venture Fair Competition (2009 & 2013), Teaching Excellence Award from the Fischell Department of Bioengineering (2011), Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year Award (2015), and the Outstanding Director of Graduate Studies Award (2015).  Fisher is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Tissue Engineering, Part B: Reviews.  In addition, Fisher has edited or co-edited 6 monographs in the field of tissue engineering.  In 2014, Fisher was the Chair of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society– Americas (TERMIS-AM) Chapter Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.  In 2014, Fisher was elected Chair of TERMIS-AM, and in 2015 started his term as Chair-Elect of the society.

Dr. Lauren Black - Educational Award

Dr. Lauren Black is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tufts University where he started his independent career in 2010. He has been honored previously with several awards including the NSF-CAREER Award, being named a 2014 Young Innovator by the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Journal, a 2015 Rising Star Award at the Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering Conference, and the winner of the 2015 TERMIS– AM Young Investigator Award. He was also recently elected a Fellow of the American Association (FAHA). Dr. Black has always had a strong interest in education, having mentored over 40 undergraduate students in research projects during his time at Tufts. In addition, he founded a Summer High School Research Program in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Tufts University that in its 6th year has seen over 60 high school students carry out directed research projects in labs within the department. A number of these student have gone on to win state level and national level awards at science fair competitions and most alums have now continued to pursue STEM degrees as undergraduates.

Ngan F. Huang - Young Investigator Award

Ngan F. Huang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Stanford University and Principal Investigator at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System.  Dr. Huang completed her BS in Chemical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the research guidance of Dr. Robert Langer.  She then received her MS and PhD in bioengineering from the University of California Berkeley & University of California San Francisco Joint Program in Bioengineering under the mentorship of Dr. Song Li.  Prior to joining the faculty, she was a postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at Stanford University under the guidance of Dr. John Cooke.  Her laboratory investigates the interactions between stem cells and extracellular matrix microenvironment for engineering cardiovascular tissues to treat cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases.  Dr. Huang has authored over 60 publications and patents, including reports in Nat Med, PNAS, and Nano Lett.  She has received numerous honors, including a NIH K99/R00 Career Development Award, Fellow of the American Heart Association, a Young Investigator award from the Society for Vascular Medicine, and a Rising Star award at the CMBE-BMES conference.  Her research is funded by the NIH, Department of Defense, and Department of Veteran Affairs.

Mahesh Devarasetty - Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Outstanding Student Award

Mahesh Devarasetty is a recent graduate of the Virginia-Tech Wake Forest University School for Biomedical Engineering and Sciences Ph.D. program, and received his B.S. in biomedical engineering from the Columbia University. He studied under the mentorship of Dr. Shay Soker at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine performing work pertaining to organoid development, cancer modeling, and hydrogel fabrication and analysis. Mahesh is a current NIH T32 fellow, and has co-authored 9 publications.