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Cardiothoracic Research and Clinical Trials

The UPMC Esophageal and Lung Institute conducts research in a number of key areas. Some research focuses on providing alternative sources for organs and reducing or eliminating the need for organ transplantation.

UPMC, in collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, enjoys global recognition as one of the world’s most active facilities for heart and lung transplantation and cardiac-assist devices.

Our investigators are constantly researching new therapies and procedures to help those with cardiothoracic diseases and disorders.

Key Areas of Research

Artificial organs

UPMC implanted the nation’s second Jarvik Artificial Heart in a patient as a bridge to transplantation in 1985. Five years later, through our Artificial Heart Program, UPMC became the first health care facility in the world to discharge a patient with a newly implanted ventricular assist device (VAD).

Since then, our highly experienced, specialized surgeons have implanted VADs in approximately 600 people with heart failure.

VAD implantation has provided a chance at renewed life for critically ill patients suffering from acute congestive heart failure or cardiogenic shock.

Already pioneers in the development of new and innovative artificial heart technology, researchers at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine are expanding their horizons and developing artificial systems that can take over for failing lungs and livers as well.

Like VAD technology, these systems will one day act as a bridge to transplantation as people await their new lungs or liver. They may even serve as a bridge to recovery, allowing organs to heal while the device is temporarily in place. Still others may benefit permanently from an implantation of one of these systems, eliminating the need for an organ transplant altogether.

Cell therapies and regenerative medicine

UPMC researchers and physicians are actively exploring the discipline of regenerative medicine and cell therapy. This field of research focuses on developing technology that will allow physicians to simply infuse young, healthy cells into a diseased organ rather than replacing it with a whole new one through transplantation surgery.

A recognized pioneer in regenerative medicine, the McGowan Institute develops and transfers scientific research and innovative clinical protocols while pursuing rapid FDA authorization for commercialization of its technologies.

This rapidly emerging and expanding field of research seeks to address diseases and disorders through:

  • Tissue engineering
  • Artificial medical devices
  • Stem cell research
  • Combination therapies

Regenerative medicine-based therapeutics are currently in use or in clinical trials to address many diseases, including:

  • Liver disease
  • Heart failure
  • Orthopaedic injuries
  • Organ failure
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases
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