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Pitt Surgeon Receives Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering

PITTSBURGH, November 2, 2007 University of Pittsburgh plastic surgeon J. Peter Rubin, M.D., received the 2007 Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) during a ceremony yesterday in Washington D.C. The PECASE is the nations highest honor for scientists who are early in their research careers.

According to the White House, the PECASE is given to recognize and support researchers whose early work shows exceptional promise for leadership at the frontiers of scientific knowledge during the twenty-first century. Awardees are nominated by one of eight federal departments, who provide the researchers with up to five years of funding to further their research. Dr. Rubin was nominated by the National Institutes of Health, which has supported his research grant, Injectable Engineered Tissue for Cancer Reconstruction.

Dr. Rubin, who is assistant professor of plastic and reconstructive surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and co-director of the Adipose Stem Cell Center, was recognized for his groundbreaking research on using fat-derived stem cells to engineer soft tissue. This technology may one day be used to generate replacement tissue for breast cancer survivors.

The use of stem cells to treat disease or regenerate tissue is believed to hold promise because of their potential to both actively participate in the healing process and develop into different specialized cell types. When exposed to specific conditions in the laboratory, fat-derived stem cells have been shown to transform into the same cell types found in fat, bone, cartilage, nerve, muscle and blood vessels, said Dr. Rubin, who also is director of the Life After Weight Loss Surgical Body Contouring Program and a faculty member at the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine, both at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Dr. Rubin received his medical degree from Tufts University and completed training in plastic surgery at Harvard University. He is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and serves as chair of the American Society of Plastic Surgery's Post-Bariatric Task Force. He is a founder and past president of the International Federation of Adipose Therapeutics and Science (IFATS), a group of scientists worldwide who are on the cutting edge of studying fat stem cell biology. Dr. Rubin has a long list of published articles and previous awards for his research work.


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