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Jack Rogers and Jay Zhang. The UAB Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) recently was awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Institutional Research Training Grant (T32) to support predoctoral students in UAB’s BME and Biomedical Sciences graduate programs.

The grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Biomedical Imagining and Bioengineering (NIBIB) is the first of its kind awarded to an engineering department in the state of Alabama. The five-year, $750,000 grant, titled Development and Functional Assessment of Cardiovascular Tissue Engineering Therapy,” is co-directed by BME Professor Jack Rogers, Ph.D., and BME Chair Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.

“Cardiovascular tissue engineering (CVTE) has tremendous, but as yet unrealized, potential to treat disease,” said Rogers. “Future scientists and engineers will need expertise in a broad range of subfields, including cardiovascular pathophysiology, cell/scaffold engineering methods, and other diverse technologies to evaluate the electromechanical safety and efficacy of prototype therapies.”

To that end, Rogers and Zhang say they will use the T32 grant funding to support up to four predoctoral students per year. The new program builds on research strengths in CVTE-related fields in the BME department and across UAB.

“We are excited and thankful for the new support from NIH, and we look forward to training a cadre of professionals in academia, government and industry who will accelerate the safe clinical adoption of CVTE technology,” said Zhang.