Professor John P. Fisher has been selected as the next chair of the A. James Clark School of Engineering’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE), effective Jan. 4, 2016.
“Dr. Fisher’s rapid ascension in academic rank parallels his many outstanding achievements in both teaching and research,” said Darryll Pines, Farvardin Professor and Dean of the A. James Clark School of Engineering. “As a leader in the areas of biomaterials, tissue engineering, and bioprinting, Dr. Fisher has demonstrated firsthand bioengineering’s capacity to improve quality of life for millions. I am confident he will advance the Fischell Department of Bioengineering’s reputation as a top-tier program by further propelling the department’s commitment to groundbreaking research, high-quality education, and engineering entrepreneurship.”
Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) professor and associate chair John Fisher is the co-editor of and contributor to a new book titled Tissue Engineering: Principles and Practices, available from CRC Press.
The book’s three sections, “Fundamentals,” “Enabling Technologies,” and “Applications” are designed to guide readers through the field, covering the latest opinions and research on topics including nanobiomaterials, stem cells, biomimetics, cartilage and dental tissue, gene therapy, artificial organs, and cellular, vascular and neural engineering. The book also provides information on the materials and techniques used in regenerative medicine, such as scaffolding, drug delivery systems, and bioreactors. Contributors have been drawn from clinical practice, academia and industry.
Over the last few years, biomaterials research—see this companion article for a definition of the field—has undergone what two of the researchers who Science Careers spoke to called a “maturation of the field,” as the science has become more sophisticated and progressed toward the clinic. Over these last few years, biomaterials researchers have become more established in their research settings and gained more control over research agendas, says John P. Fisher, a professor in the Tissue Engineering & Biomaterials Laboratory at the University of Maryland, College Park. Meanwhile, writes Hak-Joon Sung, a biomaterials researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, in an e-mail, “Not only me, but leading biomaterials scientists agree to the fact that clinical translation has become a major goal for technical development in the field.”
As a result of this maturation, funding opportunities have broadened, with researchers increasingly turning to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for support for the more applied aspects of their research portfolio. Unfortunately, that shift does not seem to have significantly improved their odds of getting funding. In fact, funding prospects in this scientifically and clinically exciting field appear to have darkened.
Meanwhile, the field’s progress toward clinical applications has given rise to increased private-sector activity, especially companies spun off from academic labs. But here, too, a dearth of investment seems to be stifling scientific, commercial, and clinical advances, and, very likely, yielding fewer opportunities for biomaterials scientists to establish careers.
The Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) and the A. James Clark School of Engineering extend their congratulations to John Fisher, who has been promoted to the rank of Professor, effective July 1. Fisher, who received his Ph.D. from Rice University in 2003, currently serves as one of the department’s two Associate Chairs and as its Director of Undergraduate Studies.
“John consistently strives to reach a high level of excellence in all aspects of our work as members of the faculty: scholarship, education, and service,” says BioE professor and chair William E. Bentley. “It’s been his guiding philosophy. It’s served him well, and it’s had a positive impact on our department. It’s very satisfying to see him recognized for his hard work on all fronts and for his tireless commitment to excellence.”
A proposal to advance the development of a system for regenerating large areas of bone in patients with serious injuries has received a four year, $1.35 million grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Clark School Associate Professor and Associate Chair John Fisher (Fischell Department of Bioengineering [BioE]) is the lead investigator on the project, which seeks to provide cultured tissue with a better blood supply and more structural support after implantation.
In 2009, Fisher and members of his Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials Laboratory designed a novel, patent-pending bioreactor system that makes tissue engineering more efficient by exposing proliferating cells to an increased amount of oxygen and nutrients. The bioreactor is also more cost-effective, thanks to its use of off-the-shelf components.
While the efficacy of the bioreactor system has been demonstrated, additional challenges associated with implanting the new tissue, particularly over large areas, remain.
Your own stem cells could one day be quickly and efficiently cultured into new bone and tissue used to heal a serious injury, thanks to advances in the development of a device designed in the Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) at the Clark School.
A paper about the device, “Tubular Perfusion System for the Long Term Dynamic Culture of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells,” by BioE graduate student Andrew Yeatts and his advisor, Associate Professor John Fisher, was recently featured on the cover Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods.
In 2009, Fisher and Yeatts were part of a team that won the Best Inventor Pitch at the university’s annual Professor Venture Fair for its design of a patent-pending tissue engineering bioreactor system that grows bone and other types of tissue for implantation. Their bioreactor makes tissue engineering more efficient by reducing cost and complexity while increasing the amount of nutrients the cells inside receive, resulting in a more prolific culture. The system is easy to set up and customize, and can be assembled from off-the-shelf components.