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Press Release

Contact: Chriss Swaney
412-268-5776

For immediate release:
February 19, 2002

New Carnegie Mellon Center Takes Lead In Developing Biotechnology Teaching Internship

PITTSBURGH—A consortium of Pittsburgh-based universities along with the Tissue Engineering Initiative plan to educate tomorrow's tissue engineers through a new program aimed at summer tutorials for both high school teachers and students.

The 10-week internship, dubbed the Teacher Education Program, is designed to expose teachers and students to the emerging new field of tissue engineering. Directed by researchers from Carnegie Mellon, The Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative Inc., the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems, Duquesne University and the University of Pittsburgh, interns see how aging bone is repaired.

Mark Krotec, the program's first teacher intern, said the experience improved his ability to incorporate interdisciplinary courses in his biology classes at Central Catholic High School.

"The program also inspired me to write the first tissue engineering educational outreach manual, which we use when we speak to area schools about tissue engineering," said Krotec, who recently won a Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching. In the past several months, more than 40 area schools, including Central Catholic High School, Franklin Regional High School, Woodland Hills High School and Mount Lebanon High School, have participated in the outreach lectures about tissue engineering.

Teacher interns are selected by a group of senior researchers from the various participating universities. "Teachers must have a math, science or biological sciences background," said Phil Campbell, a senior research scientist at Carnegie Mellon's Bone Tissue Engineering Center.

"The program is a great way to get our future generations excited about new careers in biotechnology," said John Doctor, associate professor in biological sciences at Duquesne University.

A major grant from the National Institutes of Health helped start the Carnegie Mellon center where researchers are working to produce bone substitutes for reconstructing and repairing large-scale defects caused by trauma, disease or congenital abnormalities. Researchers also are experimenting with more exotic bone-engineering techniques such as gene therapy where an individual's own genetic makeup is used to treat a specific problem.

In addition to teacher internships, outstanding high school scholars are being tapped to join summer stints in biotechnology research labs throughout the city.

"My interest in biotechnology has matured as I learn more about this field from my teacher Mr. Krotec and from the helpful Carnegie Mellon researchers," said Avery Capone, who recently graduated from Central Catholic High School. "I will get to work this summer with Carnegie Mellon's Jeffrey Hollinger, the world's leading bone-engineering researcher."

But the masters of bone engineering innovation and biotechnology are scattered throughout Pittsburgh. For example, some teacher summer intern have worked at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine in the division of the rheumatology arthritis institute. Interns have been exposed to how researchers identify the genetic and molecular defects responsible for such skin diseases as lupus.

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