As one the newest members of the Virginia Commonwealth University’s dynamic engineering community, , focuses his work in the area of regenerating functional and safe human tissues. His research combines the principles of biomaterial and biomedical science, stem cell biology and engineering, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine with the advanced techniques of molecular and cell biology.
“Before I came to VCU from Clemson, my team had developed many new technologies in the area of regenerative medicine research,” Wen said. “I trained as a dentist specializing in cranial facial surgery in China and moved into the area of engineering biomaterials. That became my career path.”
From regenerating cartilage in vivo without cell transplantation to using nanotechnology and injectable materials for spinal cord and brain repair, he and his research colleagues are adept at formulating novel approaches to healthcare challenges. In his first few months at the VCU School of Engineering, Wen created a robotic drug screening system to accelerate the new drug development.
Wen’s research goal is to develop clinically applicable tissue and organ repair strategies based on tissue engineering and regenerative medicine principles to enhance human health. His lab’s short-term objective is to establish a university-level base for biomaterials, tissue engineering, stem cell biology and engineering, computer-aided tissue biofabrication, and regenerative medicine that offers essential research resources to serve the needs of local researchers for novel biomaterials, novel scaffolds, dynamic bioreactors, stem cells, computer-aided tissue fabrication technologies, animal models and translational research in collaboration with the School of Engineering’s Institute for Engineering and Medicine.
“Regenerative medicine is one field with great hope for clinical translation and commercialization,” he says. “It integrates engineering with many disciplines, such as stem cell biology, biomaterial science, biomolecule science, biomedical science, clinical science and more. Our collaborative regenerative medicine activities will enhance partnerships among Virginia’s major research institutions, industries, government organizations and the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.”
He plans to establish the VCU Center for Biofabrication, an emerging field involving the computer-aided manufacture of biologically relevant material with the purpose of engineering functional 3D tissues and organs.
“We hope to build new avenues of collaboration and to provide supporting infrastructures for small companies in the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park. The Center for Biofabrication can give VCU a competitive edge in the new field of biofabrication.”
Wen is a fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and a recipient of the prestigious National Science Foundation Career Award for his research in stem cell-viability aimed at curing such diseases and injuries as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart and brain strokes, diabetes, spinal cord injuries and skeletal and craniofacial injuries. He received his M.D. from Henan Medical University in China and his Ph.D. from the University of Utah.
“Our collaborative regenerative medicine activities will enhance partnerships among Virginia’s major research institutions, industries, government organizations and the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park.”
– Xuejun Wen, M.D., Ph.D.