WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Anthony Atala, M.D., director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, was one of nine researchers awarded a Health Breakthrough Award on Aug. 7 from Ladies' Home Journal magazine.
The awards recognize medical professionals who have transformed their area of health with results that dramatically benefit women and families. The honorees will also be featured in the September issue of the magazine, on sale Aug. 14th.
Atala was honored for identifying a new stem cell derived from human amniotic fluid and placentas. The cells can assume the characteristics of many specialized cells in the body, potentially replacing diseased or damaged tissue. Like embryonic stem cells, amniotic cells can be grown in large quantities because they double in number every 36 hours. However, the more mature amniotic cells are less likely than embryonic cells to produce tumors, and they can be used without rejection issues. They are also accessible – they can be obtained from “afterbirth” (the placenta) and there are more than 4 million live births each year in the United States.
“Our goal is to move these technologies as quickly as possible from the laboratory to the bedside,” Atala said. “As we are working to grow more than 20 different tissues and organs we have one goal in mind – to benefit patients in need.”
The Ladies’ Home Journal team combed the country for nominees by reaching out to medical schools and organizations, teaching hospitals, foundations and government agencies and poring through newspapers and medical journals. Atala was selected from a candidate list of nearly 100 accomplished professionals.
“These medical professionals are among the most dynamic thinkers in the country, and their innovations directly save lives and improve care for millions of American families,” said editor-in-chief Diane Salvatore. “I am thrilled to be able to showcase them in this compelling, must-read report.”
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Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Wake Forest University Health Sciences, which operates the university’s School of Medicine. U.S. News & World Report ranks Wake Forest University School of Medicine 18th in family medicine, 20th in geriatrics, 25th in primary care and 41st in research among the nation's medical schools. It ranks 32nd in research funding by the National Institutes of Health. Almost 150 members of the medical school faculty are listed in Best Doctors in America.