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TEMPLE INSTITUTE FOR REGENERATIVE MEDICINE AND ENGINEERING (TIME)

Peter I. Lelkes, PhDA Message from Peter I. Lelkes, PhD, Director, Laura H. Carnell Professor, Temple Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering

 

The Temple Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering (TIME) has been established as a living bridge between the Health Sciences Campus and the Main Campus. Housed in the School of Medicine, the mission of TIME is to initiate, support and coordinate high-impact interdisciplinary and translational research and education that will generate important Regenerative Medicine and Engineering-related knowledge, technology, or products. At the same time, TIME will serve as a vehicle for stimulating growth and productivity of diverse collaborative research efforts amongst the various stakeholders throughout the entire Temple University Community.

Regenerative Medicine (RM) and Tissue Engineering (TE) are two related concepts used to describe some of today’s most advanced and promising approaches that synergistically link Medicine and Engineering in an interdisciplinary effort to replace, repair, and restore the function of diseased tissues and organs. Notable advances include the use of tissue engineered skin for treating burns and chronic wounds, replacement of trachea and blood vessels, repair of bone and cartilage and, most recently, successful implantation of regenerated whole organs, such as heart, lung, liver, kidney. Further progress in this rapidly moving field will require synergistic collaborations between diverse disciplines of engineering (biomedical, materials, mechanical, and chemical), basic sciences (biology, chemistry, biochemistry, and immunology) and medicine. In addition, a comprehensive approach requires the participation of individuals with expertise in bioethics, law and business.

 

The recent founding of the new Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering (CoE) provides the unique opportunity to establish the Temple Institute for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering (TIME). Serving as a living bridge between the Health Sciences Campus and the Main Campus, TIME will be in a strategic position to provide the framework and the resources for advancing clinical need-based interdisciplinary biomedical research and product development and to translate exciting discoveries into clinical products and therapies. TIME will facilitate the seamless university-wide interaction and integration of clinicians, scientists, and engineers and thus significantly advance the standing of University as a research institution. To be distinctive and successful, we propose that the TIME will encompass four complementary pillars of excellence (RECO): Research, Education, Commercialization, and Outreach.

 

Research: Based on a preliminary analysis of existing strengths throughout the University and pending further detailed discussions between the various programs in the School of Medicine (SoM) and other colleges, we propose to initially focus on four distinct, yet interrelated clinically relevant areas of existing strength:

 

  • Cardiovascular (Heart Disease, Atherosclerosis)
  • Pulmonary (Lung Diseases)
  • Neural (Spinal Cord Injury)
  • Musculoskeletal (Sports Injuries, Arthritis)

The teams in the SoM working on diverse aspects of basic and translational research in these focused areas are world-renowned. On the Main Campus existing current strengths in related fields, such as biomaterials and drug delivery, will be complemented by new faculty hires in the Dept. of BioEngineering. In each of these areas, significant externally funded research is already ongoing – at an individual PI level and in some cases through nascent interdisciplinary collaborative activities. The recruitment of new faculty (cluster hiring of new faculty) will provide the opportunity to generate new discoveries and intellectual property and lead to programmatic cohesion.

 

Conceptually, TIME started out as a virtual institute, with an office located in SoM. We are in the process of recruiting TIME members (as affiliated faculty) from participating colleges and departments on the Health Sciences Campus (Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Shriner’s, Fox Chase, Podiatry) and the Main Campus (Engineering, Liberal Arts, Science and Technology, Law, Business). TIME has begun recruiting new faculty, who will have their primary (joint) academic appointments and tenure in the appropriate home departments throughout the university. Details of the governance structure will be forthcoming. Prominent national and international leaders in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine have agreed to become members of an external TIME advisory board. TIME will serve as a home for the recruitment of new students and faculty with an interest in regenerative tissue engineering and medicine, a platform for supporting the research of students and fellows, and a focal point for the development of international initiatives. We believe that by choosing TIME as a common programmatic theme, the initial focus on the four research areas mentioned above will allow us to present a broad and diverse portfolio of talent and opportunities. In addition to the initial research focus of this initiative, we propose to develop concomitantly the three other arms of the Institute:


Education: As a major, long-term goal of the TIME Initiative we will channel the educational efforts of various departments and centers into a coherent degree-granting program for undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering in order to attract some of the best students in the U.S. As a university-wide initiative with a broad portfolio of interrelated complimentary research and educational topics under one programmatic umbrella, TIME will markedly enhance Temple’s ability to compete for federal funding, while at the same time attract top-notch undergraduate and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral fellows and residents.

 

Commercialization/Translational Research: TIME related technology platforms, such a scaffold and biomimetic biomaterials, have become some of the “hottest” commercialization commodities that can draw substantial federal funding as well as attract venture capital for translational research. With the aid of our Technology Development Commercialization Office, we propose to amass and market an impressive university-wide TIME-related Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio, which will serve as the basis for aggressively exploring commercialization opportunities, regionally and nationally. Seeking these opportunities with a unified voice backed by a university–wide initiative, and by a strong internal and external advisory board, will significantly enhance our chances for attracting investors.

 

Outreach: In building on and extending our existing programs (such as RET, NSF-GK-12, etc.), we will establish a regional and nationwide outreach program, which will aim to involve the community at large, especially the pool of burgeoning scientists/engineers at high schools (also K-12) and community colleges. The interdisciplinary nature and timeliness of the TIME concept offer great opportunities for developing innovative outreach programs, which will enable the students and their teachers to learn about and participate in the research programs. Of specific interest will be the unique integration into TIME of Temple scholars and faculty from the law and the business schools, addressing specific topics related to IP and commercialization as well as from the humanities, who will address bioethics, philosophy and psychology-related issues, such as stem cell research, beginning/end of life etc.

 

Taken together, the development of TIME will place Temple University in the forefront of national universities pursuing excellence in Regenerative Medicine and Bioengineering.