A team of exceptional athletes, many of whom are wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans representing all military branches, departed from the San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge on Saturday, May 22, for World T.E.A.M. Sports’ inaugural bike trek across America called Sea to Shining Sea. The goal of Sea to Shining Sea is to honor the courage of our service men and women, recognize the strength of the American spirit, and challenge perceptions of how we view athletes. The ride concluded in Virginia Beach on Saturday, July 24.
Stopping in Pittsburgh on July 14, the riders were honored at a reception at the Lexus Club at PNC Park. McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine director Alan Russell, PhD, along with former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and three former Pittsburgh Steelers, participated in the event. Dr. Russell shared a presentation of on-going research activities focused on improving the healing techniques for wounded soldiers. The presentation was a precursor to a group of the veterans visiting the McGowan Institute the following day.
During their visit, the group learned of state-of-the-art regenerative medicine research from scientists in the McGowan Institute laboratories of:
- Stephen Badylak, DVM, PhD, MD, a deputy director of the McGowan Institute, Director of the Center for Pre-Clinical Tissue Engineering within the Institute, and professor in the department of surgery, University of Pittsburgh.
The major focus of the Badylak Laboratory is the development of regenerative medicine strategies for tissue and organ replacement. The use of extracellular matrix (ECM) or its derivatives as an inductive template for constructive remodeling of tissue is a common theme of most research activities. Projects that relate to tissue and muscle repair were the focus of the presentations to the guests.
- William Wagner, PhD, a deputy director of the McGowan Institute, professor of surgery, bioengineering and chemical engineering, University of Pittsburgh, director of Thrombosis Research for the Artificial Heart and Lung Program, and deputy director of the NSF Engineering Research Center on “Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials.”
The primary research interests of the Wagner Laboratory are in the area of cardiovascular engineering with projects that address medical device biocompatibility and design, tissue engineering, and targeted imaging. The laboratory's mission is to apply engineering principles to develop technologies that will improve the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Projects related to synthetic scaffolds and cell seeding of scaffolds were demonstrated to the veterans.
- Marina Kameneva, PhD, research professor of surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, professor of bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, and director of the Artificial Blood Program at the McGowan Institute.
Dr. Kameneva’s Laboratory is addressing a variety of projects ranging from the evaluation of new medical devices, and the development and assessment of artificial blood and blood additives that can enhance blood flow and reduce drag following trauma, or when medical devices are part of a therapeutic procedure.
During the cross-country trip, spanning 63 days and 4,000 miles, the cyclists tested their physical limits and inspired people, disabled or not, to live active and enriched lives. The group cycled through deserts, mountain passes, and historical landmarks providing dramatic proof that disabled Americans can lead productive lives and accomplish feats most people only dream about. Several riders have specially-designed bikes that made it possible for them to participate.
See photos from the group’s ride through Pittsburgh here.
Photograph: Army photographer Staff Sgt. Michel Sauret. --Sea to Shining Sea.