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Dr. Sarvetnick to lead UNMC’s regenerative medicine efforts

Nora Sarvetnick, Ph.D., a stem cell researcher and transplant immunologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, has been named director of the Nebraska Regenerative Medicine Project.


The announcement was made today by UNMC Chancellor Harold M. Maurer, M.D., who praised Dr. Sarvetnick as the right person to move UNMC forward in the exciting field of regenerative medicine.

“Dr. Sarvetnick is an outstanding researcher with expertise in stem cells and immunology,” he said. “When you combine those qualities, it makes for a powerful package. She has a history of building projects and recruiting people, and that’s what we will need in this new position. She understands the importance of high quality research, and we’ve given her the resources to get started.”

Dr. Maurer said funding has been reallocated to the Nebraska Regenerative Medicine Project to allow Dr. Sarvetnick to recruit up to four regenerative medicine scientists. He is hopeful that Dr. Sarvetnick will be able to generate more support through private donations.

As an example of what other universities are doing, Dr. Maurer said Stanford University recently received a $75 million donation to build the Lokey Stem Cell Research Building.

The field of regenerative medicine involves innovative medical therapies that will enable the body to repair, replace, restore and regenerate damaged or diseased cells, tissues and organs. It encompasses a variety of research areas including cell therapy, tissue engineering, biomaterials engineering, growth factors and transplantation science.

Scientists worldwide are exploring a variety of research activities such as the repair of damaged heart muscle after a heart attack, replacement of skin for burn victims, restoration of movement after spinal cord injury and regeneration of pancreatic tissue to produce insulin for people with diabetes.

“I am grateful for community involvement,” Dr. Sarvetnick said. “The fact that Nebraska is able to embark on thisproject will enhance UNMC’s reputation as a forward thinking world leader in medical care and research.”

A New Jersey native, Dr. Sarvetnick joined UNMC in 2008 after 18 years on the faculty at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, one of the top basic science research facilities in the country. She was a professor in the department of immunology at Scripps and joined UNMC as a professor in the department of surgery.

At UNMC, one of the top solid organ transplant programs in the country, Dr. Sarvetnick’s research has focused on regeneration of the pancreas and intestines as well as liver cells. Much of her work has involved the use of adult stem cells, she said, but she hopes to start using embryonic stem cells in the near future.

Currently, three UNMC professors, Stephen Rennard, M.D., pulmonary medicine, Angie Rizzino, Ph.D., Eppley Institute, and Iqbal Ahmad, ophthalmology and visual sciences, are engaged in embryonic stem cell research.

-end- metroMAGAZINE



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