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10 November 2017Americas

LSIPR 50 2017: Anthony Atala—Surgeon by day, researcher by night

While most people in the life sciences industry pick one vocation, Anthony Atala is one of the few who has successfully forged two careers in one field. Atala is a practising surgeon and a researcher in the area of regenerative medicine at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM), a US-based institute for translating scientific discovery into clinical therapies.

Atala tells LSIPR that his twin roles as surgeon and researcher help him improve in each pursuit.

“Treating patients keeps me focused on the long-term results of our regenerative medicine research to bring healing therapies and technologies to fruition,” he says.

“And as a researcher, having direct contact with patients keeps me mindful of why the work is important.”

Atala, whose work focuses on growing human cells, tissues and organs, explains that the main achievements of his team of more than 450 researchers are those that have benefited patients, such as the use of engineered laboratory-grown tissues and organs.

Discussing challenges that he has faced in his career, Atala says there is no one secret for overcoming challenges and adds that his team’s approach is to try different strategies and persevere.

“There have been many challenges since I began work in this field more than 25 years ago. Among the first was learning to expand certain types of cells outside the body.

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