Today, in a ground-breaking move, the Department of Defense (DoD) launched a triplet of complementary programs soliciting research on organ banking – a first-ever for any government agency.
These programs could together fund research for 20 or more leading research teams, with individual teams potentially receiving $3-3.5 million across different phase 1 and 2 awards. These business innovation (SBIR) grants aim to support U.S. commercialization of science while achieving crucial military and civilian health goals.
Major military applications of this technology would include banking of hearts, livers and kidneys as well as limbs and facial tissue for life, health and function saving transplants for wounded service members.
Dr. Gerald Brandacher, Scientific Director of the Composite Tissue Allotransplantation Program at Johns Hopkins heralded this commitment: “People seem to underestimate what could be coming. This is a big step towards a future in which we routinely replace damaged organs and tissues to restore both form and function, in a way that only transplantation allows – replacing ‘like with like’.”
Sebastian Giwa, PhD, president and CEO of the Organ Preservation Alliance, and also talking for New Organ, said, "By boldly investing in this, the DoD will enable the crucial breakthroughs needed to create a future in which we can stop biological time for human organs, in much the way that we have, for decades, been able to bank stem cells, human eggs, sperm and embryos."
Dr. Giwa elaborated that “35% of all deaths in the U.S. could be prevented or substantially delayed by organ transplantation, and this exciting move by the DoD could be a true game changer.”
“The supply of tissues is one of the major constraints we face in transplantation medicine today, and organ banking technology would dramatically help resolve it. This is a major step forward in the field of transplantation,” said Harvard Medical School Professor Bohdan Pomahac.
And his colleague, Dr. W.P. Andrew Lee, who performed the nation’s first military double-arm transplants and is Director of the Department of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery at Johns Hopkins said "Progress in cryobanking would be game-changing and would enable our ever-improving transplantation abilities to help maimed American servicemen, as well as firefighters, factory workers, or civilians and children around the world injured by landmines”.
The head of the DoD group that runs these programs, Kristy Pottol, project manager for the Tissue Injury and Regenerative Medicine Project Management Office at the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity said: “In the context of the important investments the DoD is making in tissue engineering via the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM), and the investments in the world’s largest hand and face transplant program, this investment in tissue banking should not only add value on its own by improving current transplantation practices, but could also help support, complement and accelerate tissue engineering breakthroughs.”
Anticipating potential groundbreaking research from these new funding resources, and an abundance of quality applications to make this possible, the Alliance is eager to assist researchers in or near this field who haven’t navigated Defense Department applications process before, or haven’t previously done work explicitly focused on organ banking.
To learn more about the grant programs, click here and continue to visit the Alliance website at organpreservationalliance.org for updates on the grants and to learn about additional Alliance events including the first global summit on The Grand Challenges in Organ Preservation, in Silicon Valley from February 26-28, 2015.
Questions about the DoD Organ Banking grant programs can be directed via email to Sebastian.Giwa (at) post.harvard.edu.
In hope of saving the lives of millions
ABOUT THE ORGAN PRESERVATION ALLIANCE AND NEW ORGAN
The Organ Preservation Alliance is a non-profit incubated at SU Labs at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, which is working to catalyze breakthroughs on the remaining obstacles towards the long-term storage of organs by building on recent advances in cryobiology and relevant fields.
These breakthroughs will save and enrich the lives of millions; they will also accelerate progress towards break-throughs in organ tissue engineering. Innovation in these technologies will enable cryobanked, tissue-engineered organs to be available off-the-shelf and on-demand, eventually revolutionizing human health.
The Organ Preservation Alliance is a Founding Partner of New Organ, a collective impact initiative working to address organ disease and injury by coordinating a shared roadmap, prize portfolio, and alliance to catalyze breakthroughs in organ banking, bioengineering, and regeneration.