(TEMPLE, TX) — Central Texas health care leaders and educators have recruited a top international researcher in genomic medicine. Darwin Prockop, M.D., Ph.D., will serve as inaugural holder of the Stearman Chair in Genomic Medicine, professor of molecular and cellular medicine in the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, and director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Scott & White.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have Darwin join the faculty,” said Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., Jean and Thomas McMullin Dean of the HSC-COM. “The College of Medicine and Scott & White are extremely fortunate to have recruited this outstanding investigator. He brings with him an outstanding team of investigators who conduct world-class translational research.”

Dr. Prockop is an internationally-recognized investigator who is a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). A pioneer in the areas of human bone marrow-derived stem cells, their biology and clinical applications, he most recently was the director of the Center for Gene Therapy at the Tulane University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

“Scott & White is both honored and delighted that the Institute for Regenerative Medicine is coming to the Temple Campus of the College of Medicine,” said Alfred Knight, M.D., president and CEO of Scott & White. “Combining translational research with clinical care in one site puts scientists and doctors at the bedside, offering efficient and effective innovative treatments.”

The therapies developed by Dr. Prockop and his colleagues are based on discoveries largely made by his group of investigators. Their work has determined adult stem cells from a patient’s own bone marrow can be expanded, then used in the same patient to target diseases of the central nervous system, bones, cartilage, heart, pancreas, kidney and other organs.

“This is an exciting field,” Dr. Prockop said. “We’re working with adult stem/progenitor cells that have the potential to repair almost any tissue in the body, and the results seem almost magical. We’re hoping to begin trials with patients as soon and as carefully as we can. Our initial focus will be spinal cord injuries, heart disease and diabetes.”

Dr. Prockop’s group is recognized as a world leader in the production and characterization of adult stem cells. In recognition of the contributions of his laboratory, he was awarded a $4.3 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2003 to establish the first laboratory for the preparation and distribution of these cells from bone marrow stroma to academic scientists at other centers in the United States and abroad. So far, shipments have been made to approximately 250 research centers worldwide.

The HSC-COM, Scott & White and the Temple Bioscience District contributed to the recruitment package, led by Dr. Jay Puschett, senior executive associate dean for Program Development.

“One of the things that Jay was able to do in this recruitment was to create ‘the vision of the possible’ for Darwin,” Dr. Colenda said.

Wendell C. Williams, chairman of the Temple Bioscience District, is equally excited about the recruitment of Dr. Prockop.

“This announcement again confirms that the partnership between the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine, Scott & White and the community of Temple is paying dividends to all concerned,” Mr. Williams said. “The Institute for Regenerative Medicine will be an excellent partner to the Cancer Research Institute located at the west campus.”

Dr. Prockop will be bringing a number of his current colleagues to the HSC-COM campus in Temple by July 2008.

“We have the opportunity to really make this work with the great doctors from Scott & White and scientists from the College of Medicine to help oversee it all,” Dr. Prockop said. “This is an ambitious program, but the potential payoff is just fantastic.”

Dr. Prockop is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and a recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Oxford University. Following an initial period of training at the NIH, he became chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and director of the Jefferson Institute of Molecular Medicine in Philadelphia. He has been a professor of biochemistry at Tulane since 1996.

Dr. Prockop has received numerous awards and honors throughout his career. In 1991, he was elected to membership in the NAS and in 1992 to the IOM. He is internationally recognized for his pioneering research and received three honorary degrees, two distinguished alumnus awards and the Lee C. Howley Prize of the Arthritis Foundation for research in arthritis.

Anchored in Bryan-College Station, the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine consists of approximately 700 basic scientists and clinicians who instruct students during the course of their medical education. The HSC-COM is affiliated with clinical facilities across three campuses in Bryan-College Station, Temple and Round Rock. Scott & White in Temple has the longest history with the College and is ranked as one of the top 15 teaching hospitals in the nation.

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