Carnegie Mellon Press Release: February 12, 2004
Carnegie Mellon Press Releases

Back to Press Releases

Carnegie Mellon News Service Home Page

Carnegie Mellon Today

8 1/2 x 11 News

News Clips

Web News Stories

Calendar of Events

Press Release

Tim O'Brien, O'Brien Communications, (voice) 412-854-8845
Charlotte Rapkin, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, (voice) 412-201-7483
Teresa Sokol Thomas, Carnegie Mellon University, (voice) 412-268-2900
John Fedele, University of Pittsburgh, (voice) 412-624-4148

For immediate release:
February 12, 2004

Brain Gain: Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Helps Universities Attract World Class Talent through PLSG Stars
Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh Attract Internationally Respected Researchers Thanks to Program's Support

PITTSBURGH—Pittsburgh, February 12, 2004 - The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG), Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh today announced that the PLSG Stars program, which provides capital to enable the region's major universities to attract and equip the scientific talent necessary to build life sciences strengths, helped to attract 11 leading life sciences researchers and their teams to local campuses in 2003. Under the program, the PLSG provided $5.6 million in funding to support the recruitment and retention of several accomplished scientists and their teams, and to support programs that leverage university research strengths.

"We are very excited about the early results of the PLSG Stars program and the kind of world class talent we've been able to help attract to the Pittsburgh region," said Doros Platika, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the PLSG. "The key to building a strong life sciences community is to create an environment where scientific visionaries can effectively pursue their missions, make new discoveries and establish the region as a hub for leading edge research."

"With an investment from PLSG, Carnegie Mellon has been able to recruit exceptionally talented faculty whose interdisciplinary research will yield fundamental scientific insights and technologies critical to advancing medicine in the coming decade. These scientists will add depth and breadth to our faculty and enhance the Pittsburgh region's ability to achieve in many biotechnology fields," said Jared L. Cohon, president of Carnegie Mellon.

Under the program, the PLSG funds have helped attract the following distinguished individuals to Pittsburgh:

  • Ziv Bar-Joseph, Ph.D., Computational Biologist - Recruited from MIT. He is developing computational tools that will allow the integration of diverse biological data sources for modeling systems in the cell. These models can be used to investigate cellular processes, determine appropriate drug targets and minimize side effects of potential drugs.

  • Maria Kurnikova, Ph.D., Computational Chemist. Recruited from Marquette University — Specializes in developing computer simulations of how molecules move through channels in the cell membrane. In-depth studies of membrane channels, which are critical to life, will aid the development of drugs for a variety of diseases and the design of nanoscale biosensors for medical applications.

  • Chris Langmead, Ph.D., Computational Biologist. Recruited from Dartmouth. — Develops algorithms for high-throughput structural biology. This research accelerates critical steps in determining and modeling protein structures and their dynamics, thereby facilitating faster and better techniques for drug design. Langmead also develops tools for the analysis of large-scale protein and gene expression data. This work will lead to early and better disease diagnosis, as well as the design of targeted therapies against illnesses like cancer.

  • Christina Lee, Ph.D., Cell Biologist. Completed post-docs at Harvard University and Carnegie Mellon before joining the faculty. Lee studies how cells normally make and release proteins and how changes in a cell's environment affect this activity. Such research is critical to improving the understanding and treatment of human diseases ranging from cystic fibrosis to cancer. PLSG funds have helped attract the following distinguished individuals to the University of Pittsburgh:

  • Susan Amara, Ph.D., Thomas Detre Professor and Chairman of Neurobiology in the School of Medicine. Also, she is co-director of the Center for Neuroscience. Dr. Amara is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and was recruited from the Vollum Institute of the Oregon Health and Science University. Dr. Amara's research focuses on the molecular and cellular biology of neurotransmitter transporters.

  • Stephen F. Badylak, D.V.M., M.D., Research Professor of Surgery at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine — Recruited from Purdue University; a tissue engineer working on the development of extracellular matrices and scaffolds for the repair of orthopaedic soft tissues, myocardium, esophagus, and other tissues.

  • Jorg C. Gerlach, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Surgery and of Bioengineering at the McGowan Institute - Recruited from Humboldt University, Berlin; one of the world's leading biohybrid organ designers who is developing a bioartificial liver to sustain patients going through the healing process or waiting for a transplant.

  • Kirill Kiselyov, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences - Recruited from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. His work in cell signaling as initiated by hormone and neurotransmitter binding, has gained him a national reputation in his field.

  • Bita Moghaddam, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh - Recruited from Yale University School of Medicine; conducts research to study the mechanisms that underlie cognitive control of goal-oriented behavior and how these mechanisms are disrupted in animal models of psychiatric disorders.

  • Bruno Peault, Ph.D., Professor of Pediatrics and Cell Biology and Physiology at the McGowan Institute - Recruited from Institut National de al Sante; develops mouse models to study the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells.

  • Anthony Schwacha, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences - Recruited from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; studies the mechanism and regulation of DNA replication.

"As a founding member of the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, the University of Pittsburgh is delighted to continue to play a key role in the growth and development of Southwestern Pennsylvania's 'new knowledge economy,'" said University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg. "Increasingly, our institution has become a magnet, attracting outstanding scientists and researchers from across the country and around the world. They choose to come to Pittsburgh and to our University because we—and the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse—are uniquely positioned to support and to advance their important work."

About Carnegie Mellon
Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in computer science, robotics, engineering, the sciences, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions to solve real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation. A small faculty-to-student ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors.

While technology is pervasive on its 110-acre campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities because of conservatory-like programs in its College of Fine Arts. For more information, visit

About the University of Pittsburgh
As one of the world's leading public research universities, the University of Pittsburgh is a unique educational and economic development resource for Pittsburgh and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Pitt is renowned for pioneering biomedical research triumphs, surgical techniques, drug therapies, and other medical and bioengineering advances. The University attracted $513 million in sponsored research support last year, and Pitt has the distinction of having received more bioengineering research grants from the National Institutes of Health than any other university, public or private, since 2001. Pitt ranked eighth over all in total NIH funding last spring. With more than 25,000 students enrolled in its 16 schools, Pitt contributes more than $1.3 billion in University-related spending to the local economy.

About the PLSG
The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse is a public/private partnership, founded by the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, UPMC Health System, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and its regional foundation community. Together with private industry and advanced research and healthcare capabilities of our institutional partners, PLSG invests in and supports the growth of regional life sciences companies. The PLSG is focused on developing a portfolio of companies in the following industry sectors: drug discovery tools and targets, biomedical devices, tissues engineering and neurological/psychiatric strategy companies.


Other Carnegie Mellon News || Carnegie Mellon Home