Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) to lead $40 Million initiative for AFIRM Consortium

January 26, 2024

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, part of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has been selected to lead the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) Consortium. The project - a $40 million, five year-long award from the Defense Health Agency (DHA) - will focus on taking regenerative medicine solutions for battlefield injuries to the next level, and ultimately to the general public.

Regenerative medicine is a science that takes advantage of the body's natural abilities to restore or replace damaged tissue and organs. WFIRM has managed two prior AFIRM consortia since 2008 that resulted in over 20 clinical studies for innovative regenerative medicine therapies, including new treatments for burns and limb, genitourinary, facial and skull injuries.

This 2023 initiative by the US Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) and Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) will renew efforts from previous projects while bringing original ideas and the latest technologies to the research. The goal is to bring measurable acceleration to clinical products through robust partnerships.

The team will focus on developing clinical therapies over the next 5 years in the areas of:

  • Craniofacial regeneration 
  • Extremity regeneration
  • Genitourinary/lower abdomen
  • Skin and wound healing
  • On-demand blood
  • Cellular therapies for trauma

“The consortium is composed of partners from academia and industry. We look forward to meeting the goal of the new AFIRM to accelerate the transition of regenerative medicine solutions into clinical use, and to improve the lives of our wounded service members, veterans, and the American public,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., lead investigator for AFIRM and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“Regenerative medicine therapies are not just treatments, but a lifeline for our military’s healthcare future. Through the leadership of AFIRM and the expertise of the Combat Casualty Care Team, we will build a better experience for those who have devoted their lives to our nation,” stated Captain Travis M. Polk, MD, FACS, Director for the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program.

“All AFIRM projects are ‘results-focused,’ not only funding scientific research but requiring that discoveries be tested and compared so that the most promising can be brought to clinical trials,” explained William Wagner, Ph.D., co-director for AFIRM and professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh is a partner on the grant.

MTEC is a non-profit partnership of international biomedical technology companies collaborating with multiple government agencies, working with MRDC under the Other Transactions Authority (OTA). WFIRM, MTEC, and MRDC will be bringing together Regenerative Medicine research and clinical studies to provide new products and healing therapies for U.S. military personnel and civilians. 

Media Contact: Emily Gregg, egregg@wakehealth.edu