Anthony Atala, M.D.

AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2016
For outstanding contributions to the development of regenerative medicine and the successful translation of tissue engineering principles into clinical practice

WFIRM bioprinting research makes history when it soars to the ISS

Via EurekAlert | May 15, 2023

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) will make history this month when the first bioprinted solid tissue constructs soar to the International Space Station (ISS) on board the next all private astronaut mission by commercial space leader Axiom Space.

The Axiom Mission 2 (Ax-2) launch by Houston-based Axiom Space is launching from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. The crew will conduct extensive scientific research experiments including WFIRM’s vascularized tissue research – which won first place in the NASA Vascular Tissue Challenge in 2021… Continue reading.

Bioengineered Uteri in Animal Model Proven to Support Pregnancy

Via Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News | June 30, 2020

Scientists from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) were able to show that bioengineered uteri in an animal model developed the native tissue-like structures needed to support normal reproductive function. With further development, their finding may provide a treatment option for women with uterine infertility.

Their study, “A tissue-engineered uterus supports live births in rabbits,” was published in Nature Biotechnology and led by Anthony Atala, MD, director of WFIRM.

“The study shows that engineered uterine tissue is able to support normal pregnancies, and fetal development was normal, with offspring size and weight being comparable to those from a normal uterus,” Atala noted… Continue reading.

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) Scientists Push Bioprinting Capability Forward

Via News Wise | December 4, 2019

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) scientists are the first to report using bioprinting to print a tracheal tissue construct comprised of multiple different functional materials. They printed different designs of smooth muscle and cartilage regions in artificial tracheal substitutes showing similar mechanical properties to human tracheal tissue.

Previous attempts of tissue-engineered tracheal constructs have presented many different limitations, mainly because they focused only on using regenerated cartilage tissue. The WFIRM tracheal constructs are novel in that they were bioprinted with separate cartilage and smooth muscle regions at the same time using a biodegradable polyester material and hydrogels containing human mesenchymal stem cells which can self renew and can become a variety of cell types. In this case, the stem cells differentiated into two different cell types — chondrocytes and smooth muscles cells — in different regions of the bioprinted tracheal constructs. The cartilage portion is stiff to provide mechanical support to avoid collapse while the smooth muscle is pliable and connects the ends of the cartilage rings, allowing sufficient flexibility for airway contraction… Continue reading.

Wake Forest researchers create advanced brain organoid to model strokes, screen drugs

Via EurekAlert | May 29, 2018

Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) scientists have developed a 3-D brain organoid that could have potential applications in drug discovery and disease modeling. This is the first engineered tissue equivalent to closely resemble normal human brain anatomy, containing all six major cell types found in normal organs including, neurons and immune cells.

In a study published this month in Scientific Reports, the researchers report that their advanced 3-D organoids promote the formation of a fully cell-based, natural and functional barrier – the blood brain barrier – that mimics normal human anatomy.

The blood brain barrier is a semipermeable membrane that separates the circulating blood from the brain, protecting it from foreign substances that could cause injury. This development is important because the model can help to further understanding of disease mechanisms at the blood brain barrier, the passage of drugs through the barrier, and the effects of drugs once they cross the barrier.

“The shortage of effective therapies and low success rate of investigational drugs are due in part because we do not have a human-like tissue models for testing,” said senior author Anthony Atala, M.D., director of WFIRM. “The development of tissue engineered 3D brain tissue equivalents such as these can help advance the science toward better treatments and improve patients’ lives… Continue reading.

Bioprinting Human Tissue

Via Renal and Urology News | February 5, 2018

Anthony Atala, MD, is the Director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As a practicing surgeon and a researcher in the area of regenerative medicine, his work focuses on growing human cells and tissues. We spoke with Dr Atala about the role of bioprinting in urology and nephrology, its current applications and future potential.

1. Why should urologists and nephrologists find 3D bioprinting so exciting?

3D bioprinting is a way of scaling up the process of engineering replacement tissues in the lab. It’s precise and reproducible, which might expand access to regenerative medicine therapies beyond small clinical trials… Continue reading.

Lab-engineered ovaries superior to hormone drugs in animal model

Via EurekAlert | December 5, 2017

New research in rats suggests the possibility of bioengineering artificial ovaries in the lab to provide a safer, more natural hormone replacement therapy for women. A team from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine found that the engineered ovaries were more effective than hormone therapy drugs at improving bone and uterine health and body composition.

“The treatment is designed to secrete hormones in a natural way based on the body’s needs, rather than the patient taking a specific dose of drugs each day,” said Emmanuel C. Opara, Ph.D., senior author and professor of regenerative medicine at the institute, which is part of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

Current hormone replacement medications designed to compensate for the loss of female sex hormone production are not recommended for long-term use due to the increased risk of heart disease and breast cancer.


Opara’s co-researchers were Sivanandane Sittadjody, Ph.D, Sunyoung Joo, M.D., Ph.D., Thomas C. Register, Ph.D, James J. Yoo, M.D., Ph.D., and Anthony Atala, M.D., Wake Forest Baptist; Justin M. Saul, Ph.D., a former Wake Forest Baptist researcher now at Miami University; and John P. McQuilling, Ph.D, a former Wake Forest Baptist researcher now at Organogenesis… Continue reading.

Scientists Develop “Body-on- a-Chip” System to Accelerate Testing of New Drugs

Via News Wise | October 5, 2017

Using the same expertise they’ve employed to build new organs for patients, scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine and colleagues have engineered micro hearts, lungs and livers that can potentially be used to test new drugs. By combining the micro-organs in a monitored system, the researchers aim to mimic how the human body responds to medications.

The goal of the effort, known as a “body-on-a-chip,” is to help reduce the estimated $2 billion price tag and 90 percent failure rate that pharmaceutical companies face when developing new medications. Drug compounds are currently screened in the lab using human cells and then tested in animals. But neither of these methods adequately replicates how drugs affect human organs.

“There is an urgent need for improved systems to accurately predict the effects of drugs, chemicals and biological agents on the human body,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the institute and senior researcher on the multi-institution body on a chip project, funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency… Continue reading.

On Hilton Head, the future promises a human heart built with a desktop printer

Via The Island Packet | September 27, 2017

This is a story of hope and promise.

To me, it sounds like science fiction.

But it is not. You can hear and see for yourselves at a presentation Oct. 5 at the Sonesta Resort on Hilton Head Island called “Adult Stem Cells: Medicine of the Future.”

Two world-famous doctors and researchers — Dr. Keith March of Indiana University and Dr. Anthony Atala of Wake Forest University — will tell of the medical hope and promise being engineered in laboratories today by hundreds of our brightest minds.

It’s about regenerative medicine, in which someday our bodies will be able to heal themselves by generating new tissue or even organs. Continue reading.