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SEATTLE - (March 1, 2011) - Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) has hired James "Jim" Dennis, PhD, an expert in mesenchymal adult stem cell biology and tissue engineering, to expand BRI's bioengineering capabilities.

Dennis is an expert in tissue engineering related to repairing cartilage and making joint cartilage. He also developed methods to deliver targeted adult stem cells to repair particular tissues. He was previously an assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and served as faculty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and Pathology there.

Dennis and his team have several research projects currently under way.

  • The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded a project to use a tissue-engineered piece of cartilage, created in the laboratory, to repair the trachea. The goal for clinical application is to create a trachea for infants who are born with tracheal defects or to repair tracheal injuries for patients of all ages. Dennis has tested this cartilage in model systems with success.
  • The National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases of the NIH is funding a project on repairing joints using large sheets of cartilage to cover the entire surface of the joint. The team is now working on a model for the shoulder joint that could be helpful for patients with arthritis or people who have suffered from an injury to the joint.
  • The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease of the NIH and the Department of Defense have funded grants for the team to develop cellular "paints" that attach themselves to cell membranes and promote binding of therapeutic cells to the tissues of interest to help repair them.
  • The team is also looking at ways to send adult stem cells for tissue repair to the tissues of interest. The hope is to repair the heart after heart attacks and repair skeletal muscle after major traumatic injuries, such as a significant loss of muscle mass that occurs in some industrial or auto accidents or on the battlefield.

Dennis joined BRI because of its excellence in immunology. He is interested in expanding his work in inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and other areas of immunology.

"We can use the body's immune system to learn how to protect cells from injury and to control the inflammatory response," Dennis said. "I'm very excited to become part of the research team at BRI."

About Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), founded in 1956, is an international leader in immune system and autoimmune disease research, translating discoveries to real-life applications. Autoimmune disease happens when the immune system, designed to protect the body, attacks it instead. BRI is one of the few research institutes in the world dedicated to discovering causes and cures to eliminate autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and many others. Visit BenaroyaResearch.org or Facebook/BenaroyaResearch for more information about BRI, clinical studies and the more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases.

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