October 19, 2022

Membership in the academy is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine, and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Members of the organization elect new members based on their contributions to advancing public health, health care and medical science. All members volunteer to serve on committees examining a broad range of health policy issues.

Farshid Guilak, PhD

Guilak is the Mildred B. Simon Research Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and co-director of the Washington University Center of Regenerative Medicine. He specializes in the study of arthritis, working to uncover factors that contribute to the onset and progression of the disorder, with an eye toward developing new drugs and stem cell therapies that may be used as treatments. He also is a professor of developmental biology and of biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering and materials science in the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Guilak’s team has developed techniques to grow cartilage from patients’ donor cells and eventually create living joint replacements using that cartilage to treat arthritis in the hip. His team also pioneered the use of CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology to engineer SMART cells (Stem cells Modified for Autonomous Regenerative Therapy) with synthetic gene circuits that can secrete biologic drugs in response to factors such as inflammation or mechanical loading related to arthritis. Guilak’s team used the CRISPR technology to remove a key gene involved in inflammation and replace it with a gene that releases a biologic drug to combat inflammation.

Guilak, who also is the director of research at Shriners Children in St. Louis, spent more than 15 years working with collaborators to develop the method in which cartilage cells are seeded onto a scaffold to treat arthritis of the hip. With collaborators, Guilak formed a startup company called CytexOrtho that is advancing the technology.

Guilak has received the Basic Research Award from the Osteoarthritis Research Society International; the Senior Scientist Award from the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Society; and a trio of major awards from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He also is a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Originally published by the School of Medicine 

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