Farshid Guilak, an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the McKelvey School of Engineering, has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine, a part of the National Academy of Sciences. He is one of four faculty with primary appointments at the School of Medicine whose election was announced Oct. 17.

The others are They are Opeolu M. Adeoye, MD; David H. Gutmann, MD, PhD; and Jonathan Kipnis. Membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service. They are among 100 new members. 

Guilak is the Mildred B. Simon Research Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and co-director of the Washington University Center of Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in the study of arthritis, working to uncover factors that contribute to the onset and progression of the disorder, with an eye toward developing new drugs and stem cell therapies that may be used as treatments. He also is a professor of developmental biology and of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering and materials science in the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Guilak’s team has developed techniques to grow cartilage from patients’ donor cells and eventually create living joint replacements using that cartilage to treat arthritis in the hip. His team also pioneered the use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology to engineer SMART cells (Stem cells Modified for Autonomous Regenerative Therapy) with synthetic gene circuits that can secrete biologic drugs in response to factors such as inflammation or mechanical loading related to arthritis. Guilak’s team used the CRISPR technology to remove a key gene involved in inflammation and replace it with a gene that releases a biologic drug to combat inflammation.

Guilak, who also is the director of research at Shriners Children in St. Louis, spent more than 15 years working with collaborators to develop the method in which cartilage cells are seeded onto a scaffold to treat arthritis of the hip. With collaborators, Guilak formed a startup company called CytexOrtho that is advancing the technology.

Guilak has received the Basic Research Award from the Osteoarthritis Research Society International; the Senior Scientist Award from the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society; and a trio of major awards from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He also is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

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The McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis promotes independent inquiry and education with an emphasis on scientific excellence, innovation and collaboration without boundaries. McKelvey Engineering has top-ranked research and graduate programs across departments, particularly in biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and computing, and has one of the most selective undergraduate programs in the country. With 165 full-time faculty, 1,420 undergraduate students, 1,614 graduate students and 21,000 living alumni, we are working to solve some of society’s greatest challenges; to prepare students to become leaders and innovate throughout their careers; and to be a catalyst of economic development for the St. Louis region and beyond.

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