News & Events

Dr. Ovitt and Dr. Benoit Awarded NIH Grant

September 14, 2012

Salivary gland cellsBiomedical Genetics assistant professor, Catherine Ovitt, Ph.D. and Danielle Benoit, Ph.D., assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering, have been awarded a four year grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for the project, entitled Hydrogel encapsulation of salivary gland cells promotes cell survival, proliferation, and assembly.

This project deals with potential utility of adult stem or progenitor cells for repair of radiation-damaged salivary glands. While the potential is high, it is currently only a theoretical solution for patients suffering from xerostomia. There remain several critical obstacles that must be resolved before cell-based therapy for dysfunctional salivary glands can be moved into the clinical arena. These include the identification of appropriate donor cells, the technology for promoting implantation, and direct functional assays to assess the outcomes.

The goal is to determine if the use of hydrogels can promote in vivo differentiation of transplanted progenitor cells. The successful completion of this project will establish a foundation for subsequent translational research to progress the technology into clinical applications.

For more information please visit the Ovitt Lab and the Benoit Lab.