You are here

Advancing ideas, big and small

Kent Gordon Croft Investment Management Faculty Scholar Sharon Gerecht, professor, chemical and biomedical engineering
Posted August 15, 2017

Big, ambitious ideas or smaller, nagging ideas: Sharon Gerecht embraces them all to engineer stem cells to repair and regenerate tissue. In research, though, ideas can outnumber funding opportunities — even for Gerecht, who holds 19 patents, co-founded Gemstone Biotherapeutics, directs the Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology, and was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering's College of Fellows earlier this year. But as the Kent Gordon Croft Investment Management Scholar, she has the resources necessary to fuel some of her newest ideas. 

Gerecht's work focuses on understanding how stem cells — the fundamental building blocks of tissues and organs — become different cell types in the brain, heart, and skin, and how to harness that process to guide therapeutic cell and tissue use. Croft's generous support of the faculty scholar awards has supported Gerecht's preliminary research into small-diameter (two microns, to be exact) vascular grafts. Data established by this study have led to funding from the Maryland Stem Cell Research Validation Grant program, through which Gerecht is working with a cardiac surgeon on possibilities for commercialization.

Members of Gerecht's lab, including chemical and biomoelcular and biomedical engineering undergraduate and doctoral students, as well as a high school student from nearby Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, have taken active roles in the research.

"Funding, like that I receive from the Croft Faculty Scholar award, allows students to test their theories and to see how you move research from the lab to the bench to the bedside," she says, adding that her lab is completing testing on how stem cells with a specific mutation affect blood vessels.

To learn more about the Croft Fellows or to make a gift to support Whiting School faculty, please contact Megan Howie, associate dean for external relations.