Case Western Reserve Positions Regenerative Medicine Center for Future Growth

CLEVELAND - In a move to streamline and accelerate the research and development of new stem cell and regenerative medicine technologies, the National Center for Regenerative Medicine (NCRM) and the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (CSCRM) at Case Western Reserve University have been rolled into a single entity housed within the university’s School of Medicine.

The resulting NCRM is being incorporated into the Division of General Medical Sciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, providing the center with a direct link to the medical school’s basic and clinical research facilities and its vast health sciences administration resources. The realignment positions the NCRM for its next phase of growth and development and boosts the potential to diversify and enhance the center’s funding base.

“We are on the cusp of becoming a national force in regenerative medicine,” says Robert H. Miller, PhD, the Allen C. Holmes Professor of Neurological Diseases, director of the Center for Translational Neuroscience, and vice dean for research at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “The focus and investment from the School of Medicine and its affiliate organizations position us to be a nationally recognized center for regenerative medicine.”

Prior to the reorganization, the NCRM was administered through the Case Western Reserve Office of the Provost. The NCRM was a vehicle for securing federally funding, whereas the CSRM drew state funding.

Integrating the consolidated NCRM into the School of Medicine provides a solid platform for growing research programs, grant support and philanthropy, while promoting the Center’s mission and elevating it to the next level of performance, Dr. Miller says.

Future plans for the NCRM include naming an executive director and expanding educational programs. Additionally, sources of funding will be sought in order to establish an endowment to support the NCRM and up to five endowed research chairs.

“Being part of the School of Medicine gives the NCRM academic credentials,” a potential draw in recruiting additional faculty to the school, who will be able to apply for secondary faculty appointments within the Center, says Stan Gerson, MD, director of the NCRM and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Asa and Patricia Shiverick-Jane Shiverick (Tripp) Professor of Hematological Oncology at the School of Medicine and director of the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center.

This move will enhance communication and fuel greater collaboration among interdisciplinary researchers within departments and across the medical school’s hospital affiliates, which include University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth Medical Center and Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.

The NCRM is working to expand partnerships with other researchers, medical institutions and potential commercial partners to fuel the level of scientific development, innovation, and commercialization around stem cell and regenerative medicine. This lays the groundwork for seeking more competitive funding from the National Institutes of Health.

“Integrating the National Center for Regenerative Medicine within the School of Medicine is a natural step in the Center’s long-term development,” Dr. Gerson explains. “We are establishing the infrastructure for a vibrant biotech industry. This propels the mission of regenerative medicine forward, helping to create new therapies for patients and maximizing the opportunities to bring new research to market.”

More than 120 principal investigators, who will be offered formal secondary academic appointments in the Center, including 41 School of Medicine faculty members, and 10 corporate partners affiliated with the NCRM, have successfully advanced more than 60 programs into clinical development, resulting in the treatment of more than 450 patients at partner hospitals, with many additional programs in active preclinical development.

The NCRM’s pairing of promising late-stage academic research with commercial partners focused on developing clinical products has resulted in 10 investigational new drug (IND) approvals for cellular therapeutic clinical trials in five years, a remarkable feat in light of the technological and regulatory hurdles faced by “live” cell therapies.

NCRM partners include University Hospitals, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio State University and Athersys, Inc. Companies affiliated with the Center include Arteriocyte, Inc.; BioInVision, Inc.; Cell Targeting, Inc.; Cleveland Cord Blood Center; Invenio Therapeutics, Inc.; Juventas Therapeutics, Inc.; Lentigen; Osiris Therapeutics; Proxy Biomedical Ltd.; SironRX Therapeutics, Inc.; StemMed West, LLC; and Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report's "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine is affiliated with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.