Husband-wife team leaves NIH to start new medical centers at Pitt
A husband and wife will leave top posts at the National Institutes of Health to separately direct newly created hubs for medical research at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, officials announced Tuesday.
Cecilia Lo, a biologist specializing in congenital heart disease, will lead the Department of Developmental Biology. Her husband, tissue-engineering expert Rocky Tuan, will direct the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering in the orthopedic surgery department.
The couple, married 33 years, will join Pitt this summer, moving from Bethesda, Md.
"There's such a culture of translational medicine in Pittsburgh, and that makes it so exciting for me," said Lo, director of the Genetics and Developmental Biology Center and chief of the Laboratory of Developmental Biology at the NIH's National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
"To have a lot of clinicians who are really interested in doing research and actively engaged in research is just fantastic. I really see a great future here."
Getting two NIH scientists should give Pitt an edge in winning NIH grants, said Dr. Freddie Fu, who chairs the orthopedic surgery department. Pitt has ranked among the top 10 recipients of NIH funding since 1997 and currently ranks fifth.
Fu expects Tuan, a researcher for 30 years, to guide younger scientists.
"Dr. Rocky Tuan is renowned, not just as a researcher, but as a teacher and a mentor," Fu said. "With Rocky coming here, I think people are jealous about it because it's hard to get a scientist to come out of the NIH — NIH is already the most elite."
Tuan is chief of cartilage biology and orthopedics at the NIH's National Institute of Arthritis, and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Tuan said he was attracted to Pitt because of the intradisciplinary atmosphere. Instead of shipping research data and ideas to another department for input, he said, at Pitt "they're actually huddling together to come up with solutions."
He plans to assemble a team that would combine biological and engineering principles to create therapies for things such as genetic mutations, traumatic injuries and diseases caused by aging and cancer. He'll use nanotechnology and adult stem cells to grow tissue that can repair damaged muscle and cartilage.
"The nice thing about Pittsburgh is that there are already a lot of people thinking this way in the city," he said. "It's not like I have to reinvent the wheel; it's more like preaching to the choir."
For seven years, Lo has worked on basic research to understand the genetic causes of congenital heart disease.
"This is a birth defect involving the heart," Lo said. "Most are rather life-threatening. Most patients require cardiac surgery."
Her research has become clinical, moving from mouse models into therapeutic treatments for people. Based in the John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh campus in Lawrenceville, her laboratory will explore how treatments such as stem cell therapy could help patients.
"So my lab is interested in congenital heart disease, but the department is going to be much broader," Lo said. "I would like to see a strong presence in terms of basic research using different animal models to study development. And the goal in the future is to integrate the basic scientists with the clinician scientists.
"Once we understand the basic science underlying diseases that affect children, we'll be able to develop effective therapies."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Brown downplays possible matchup against Seahawks’ Sherman
- Dubinsky suspended for cross-check on SidneyCrosby
- Downtown holiday parade festive, but turnout low
- WPIAL Class A notes: Return sparks Clairton for 2nd straight week
- Howard leads West Virginia over Iowa State
- Barefoot toddlers found wandering in Uniontown Hospital lot
- Clairton captures 12th WPIAL football championship
- Body found in Allegheny River in Harrison
- Woman dies after bleeding on sidewalk outside Carrick pizzeria
- Pitt notebook: Offensive struggles continue
- Unsung backups provide boost for Steelers defensive line