A new interdisciplinary health sciences resource center housed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has received $11.7 million from the National Institute of Health to support research on new ways to restore dental, oral, and craniofacial tissues lost to disease, injury, or congenital disorders.
Scientists, engineers, and clinicians from U-M will be joined by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University, as well as private companies. The three universities have contributed additional funds to increase the project total to about $14 million.
The collaboration is the result of an initial one-year organizational phase funded by a previous planning grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. The new funding will support a second, three-year phase where investigators will evaluate and select research projects with the most potential.
The Michigan-Pittsburg-Wyss-Resource Center will match the projects with engineering, biological, manufacturing, commercial, and regulatory experts from the clinical, academic, and private sectors to more efficiently convert discoveries into clinical practice.
Project directors from the U-M School of Dentistry are David Kohn, a dual professor in the school’s departments of biologic and materials sciences and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering, and William Giannobile, a professor of dentistry and biomedical engineering, and chair of the department of periodontics and oral medicine. Charles Sfeir and William Wagner of the University of Pittsburgh and David Mooney of Harvard will also join as project directors and principle investigators.
All agree that the center’s goal for the next three years is to vet technologies regarding clinical solutions, manufacturing capability, and commercialization.
“We feel fortunate that we were able to coalesce many different groups from around the university that could really help spearhead regenerative medicine at Michigan with this type of larger, programmatic grant,” Giannobile says. “It’s oral, dental, and craniofacial research, but certainly this will serve as a bridge to other parts of the body — the musculoskeletal system, bone regeneration, soft tissue, nerve, other structures — because what we learn in the all-important head and neck area will apply to other areas as well.”
The project also includes two key private sector contributors, the McGuire Institute of Houston, with experience in practice-based clinical research in regenerative medicine, and the Avenues Co. of Flagstaff, Ariz., a marketing consulting firm focusing on clinical and business development strategies in regenerative dentistry.