Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine

The only research facility in the world to have created wholly laboratory-grown organs, engineered bladders, that have been successfully implanted in patients.


Wake Forest University School of Medicine
Winston – Salem, N.C. 2 7 I57

Mission :
Our mission is to improve patient care by continuing to develop and disseminate novel clinical therapies for the functional repair and replacement diseased of organs and tissues.

Anthony Atala , MD
Background of Director:

Anthony Atala, MD, is the W.H. Boyce Professor and Chair of the Department of Urology and Director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University.  Dr. Atala is a surgeon in the area of pediatric urology and a researcher in
the area of regenerative medicine.  His current work focuses on growing new human cells, tissues and organs.

Dr . Atala works with several journals and serves in various roles, such as Editor-in-Chief of Current Stem Cell Research
and Therapy and the Scientific World-Urology; as Associate or Section Editor of the Journal of Urology (lnvestigativeUrology),
Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, The Journal of Rejuvenation Research and Current Reviews in Urology; and as Editorial Board member of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Urology, Current Opinion in Urology, BioMed Central-Urology, the Journal of Laparoendoscopi and Advanced Surgical Techniques, Stem Cells and Development, Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, and Biomedical Materials.

Dr . Atala is a recipient of the US Congress funded Christopher Columbus Foundation Award, bestowed on a living American who is currently working on a discovery that will significantly affect society, and the Cold C ystoscope Award for advances in his field.  Dr. Atala was named by Scientific American as a Medical Treatments Leader of the Year for his contributions to the fields of cell, tissue and organ regeneration.  In 2006, he was named by Fast Company magazine as one of 50 people who “will change how we work and live over the next l0 years, and his work was listed as Discover Magazine’s Number 1 Top Science Story of the Year in the field of medicine in 2007.
Dr. Atala has led or served several national professional and government committees, including the National Institutes of Health working group on Cells and Developmental Biology, and the National Institutes of Health Bioengineering Consortium. He is currently an NIH “Quantum Grant” awardee.  Dr. Atala heads a team of over 150 physicians and researchers.  Ten applications of technologies developed in Dr. Atala’s laboratory have been used clinically.  He is the editor of 8 books, including Methods of Tissue Engineering, Principles Regenerative of Medicine, and Minimally Invasive Urology, and has published more than 200 journal articles and has applied for or received over 200 national and international patents.

Major Accomplishments:

  • The institute is the only research facility in the world to have created wholly laboratory-grown organs, engineered bladders, that have been successfully implanted in patients.
  • The institute has identified and characterized a new class o f non-controversial stem cells derived from amniotic fluid and placenta, which show enormous promise for the treatment of many diseases, including diabetes and liver and heart disease.  The cells could be used as an injectable therapy or to grow replacement tissues and organs in the laboratory that could be implanted in patients.

Current Projects:
The Institute for Regenerative Medicine is currently working to engineer more than 20 different tissues and organs in the laboratory, including kidney, muscle, blood vessel, lung, heart and liver.  In some cases, a patient’s own cells are used.  Other
projects use the stem cells from amniotic fluid, which are distinct from human embryonic stem cells, but resemble them in two important ways. They can be easily expanded in the laboratory and can be induced to differentiate into multiple specialized cell types.  However, unlike embryonic stem cells, the A5 cells do not form tumors when they are transplanted. And, because they are easily obtained from afterbirth, ethical concerns are eliminated.

One project is to coax the amniotic stem cells to differentiate into pancreatic insulin-producing cells.  The ultimate goal is to produce cells that are able to regulate insulin levels based on the amount of glucose the cells are exposed to. We are currently assessing function by injecting the cells into a mouse model of diabetes.  Of course, many steps will have to be completed before the therapy could be applied to humans.  The ultimate goal is to engineer cells with the potential to reverse diabetes.

Web Site: www.wfubmc.edu/wfirm/

Contact Us

1850 Old Pecos Trail, Suite L
Santa Fe, NM 87505
505.989.8647 PHONE
505.983.6464 FAX
888.634.1492 TOLL-FREE