On the surface, medical therapies designed to treat diseased human tissue – cancer, for example – don’t ostensibly have much in common with therapies designed to grow human tissue, such as the reconstruction of large bone defects. The TUM-IAS has brought together an interdisciplinary group of experts exploring how two different approaches to cell and tissue engineering – clinical cell purification, processing and therapy (CT) and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (TE&RM) – might converge. In recent years, both CT and TE&RM have received increasing attention in the development of innovative and highly effective therapies for a growing range of illnesses and diseases.

Although coming from different research directions, leading experts from the TUM-IAS Clinical Cell Processing and Purification Focus Group and the Regenerative Medicine Focus Group have identified the synergies between their respective research areas, and collaborated for the TUM-IAS Clinical Cell and Tissue Engineering Focal Period for a workshop from September 20 – 22, 2016.

Stan Riddell and Dirk Busch skyping with Dietmar W. Hutmacher

The major goal of the Focal Period group concept was to bring existing expertise at the TUM-IAS in TE&RM together with the TUM biomedical community in order to foster both fundamental and cutting-edge translational research in this rapidly emerging research field. With the establishment of its Graduate School of Bioengineering in 2015, TUM committed itself to strengthening its academic activities in this globally emerging research area.

Biomedical engineering com prises one of the main pillars in this program, and TUM places a strong emphasis on translating technology developments into defined clinical applications.

In an interview at the end of November 2016, Erica Gingerich (EG) with the TUM Corporate Communications Center and TUM-IAS science writer, caught up with Dirk Busch (DB) at his office in downtown Munich. He was joined by Stan Riddell (SR), who had just arrived from the U.S. to accept the accolade of TUM Ambassador from President Wolfgang A. Herrmann. Dietmar W. Hutmacher (DWH) stayed up into the early hours of the morning on the other side of the globe in Australia to join the conversation via Skype to talk about the Focal Period collaboration.

A TUM-IAS Fellowship is not just a three-year stint where we’re here to develop a program at TUM and then return to our respective universities and do our own thing alone again. TUM has the ambition to be a global leader in the field of cell and tissue engineering, and they are willing, then, to give additional resources to bringing different experts from different Focus Groups together to develop new ideas. And then really follow those ideas up – remember that we are all based at a medical facility at our respective universities – to deliver new therapies and concepts for patients. « Dietmar W. Hutmacher

Read the full interview excerpt here.

The Interview appeared in the 2016 Annual Report of the TUM Institute for Advanced Study. Download the full report here.