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2016 ASTS Vanguard Prize Recipients

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Satish N. Nadig MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Surgery, Microbiology & Immunology
Medical University of South Carolina Transplant Surgery

2016 Vanguard Prize Nadig
Synopsis: As the director of the MUSC Transplant Immunobiology Laboratory (TIBL), the focus of our research is centered around immunoregulation and targeted drug delivery in the setting of solid organ transplantation. Specifically, we are interested in the utilization of triggered-release nanoparticle therapy as a vehicle for immunotherapeutics. Merging the expertise of bioengineering with that of transplant immunology has allowed for a team science approach to problems surrounding systemically delivered immunotherapeutics. Targeted nanotherapy offers a focused method of immunosuppressant administration to organs either as a pre-treatment method in the preservation stage of transplantation, or as an in vivo delivery method to obviate harmful systemic side-effects. In addition, our laboratory focuses on cellular therapies including the use of regulatory T cells (Treg) for their natural and inducible suppressive capacity.Central to our investigations are the use of animal models to test the uptake, efficacy, and regulatory properties of self-assembling micelle nanoparticles carrying immunosuppressants, which may be conjugated to specified targeting moieties allowing for specific delivery to various cell types and/or areas of ischemia-reperfusion (i.e. an allograft) along with fluorophores for homing and tracking purposes respectively. We also investigate the mechanisms by which these nanoparticles act including their ability to alter cellular metabolism and expand immunoregulatory cell subsets.
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Jason A. Wertheim MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Surgery - Organ Transplantation
Department of Surgery, Feinberg School of Medicine
Department of Biomedical Engineering, McCormick School of Engineering
Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine
Chemistry of Life Processes Institute
Northwestern University

2016 Vanguard Prize Wertheim
Synopsis: The continuing worldwide shortage of organs and tissues for transplantation necessitates development of new technologies to regenerate and repair damaged organs and replace these tissues when required. The research in my laboratory focuses on development of functional tissues on three-dimensional scaffolds. One limitation of tissues derived from stem/progenitor cells is a blunted phenotype relative to endogenous cells. Research in our laboratory demonstrates that growth of cells on specialized three-dimensional scaffolds leads to enhanced function. Our manuscript in American Journal of Transplantation (Jan 2015;15(1):64-75) that was recognized by this Vanguard Prize and supported by the American Society of Transplant Surgeons Faculty Development Grant details the development of kidney-derived extracellular matrix scaffolds upon which cells grow and organize into tissue resembling renal tubules. This manuscript delineates standard operating procedures for the development, analysis and standardization of these scaffolds that form the foundation upon which we now test other cell types to define their capacity to differentiate, mature and function. Our research group thanks our colleagues at the American Society of Transplant Surgeons for this recognition and their support of new research that addresses organ shortage.