MGH Research Scholars Program
The MGH Research Scholars Program was established to support early career researchers with innovative yet unproven ideas that have the potential to transform the future of medicine. Funded 100% through philanthropy, this program gives researchers the freedom and flexibility they need to follow the science wherever it leads. History has shown that brilliant scientists who are given free rein to explore new frontiers make the greatest, often unexpected, advances.
MGH Research Scholar Harald Ott, MD, is developing new tools and protocols for regenerating personalized organs on demand.
Organ Engineering Based on Native Matrix and Patient-Derived Cells
Organ failure is the leading health care challenge, with more than 30 million Americans suffering from single or multi organ failure. Organ transplantation is the only potentially curative therapy available. However, its outcomes are limited by a shortage of donor organs and the side effects of immunosuppressive treatments.
Advances in regenerative medicine have made organ regeneration a paradigm-shifting alternative to transplantation. By using organs and tissue grafts grown with patient-derived cells, we could address the issues of long waiting times for donor organs and transplant rejection.
Working towards this ambitious goal, we reported the first regenerated rat heart in 2008, the first regenerated rat lung in 2010, and the first regenerated rat kidney in 2013 in three separate Nature Medicine articles.
In the unique multidisciplinary research environment at Mass General, we have made innovations in the field of organ regeneration, and reported the first human protocol for this technology in 2014.
In May 2014, we created the first contracting human myocardium (heart muscle cells) in a human whole heart based on patient-derived cells and native matrix (the underlying scaffolding of the organ once the cells have been removed).
Our MGH Research Scholar funds are helping us better understand the influence of the native matrix on organ development, and to develop new tools and protocols to reach our ultimate goal of regenerating personalized organs on demand.