The CMP program integrates cellular and molecular biology with the study of human diseases, often in the context of Regenerative Medicine with translational goals. Utilizing the latest technologies, students in the program have opportunities to study both normal and diseased tissues and cells in order to solve basic and applied research problems. The program includes faculty from the divisions of Experimental Pathology and Neuropathology in the Department of Pathology as well as many other clinical departments from the School of Medicine. Faculty and students also work within the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, and the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine.
The Cellular and Molecular Pathology program faculty direct strong programs in Cancer Biology, Embryonic Development and Organogenesis, Stem Cell Biology, Angiogenesis, Tissue and Organ Regeneration, Matrix Biology, Neurodegeneration, and the Molecular Basis of Disease.
Faculty are investigating all aspects of cancer biology including carcinogenesis, progression, and metastasis. Current research includes studies of cell structure and its relationship to cancer, genetic alterations, changes in cell-cell and cell-ECM interactions, and growth factors. Many types of cancers are focused upon, including prostate, bladder, gastrointestinal, and liver. Faculty members in this program represent some of the internationally recognized investigators in cancer research, applying the latest techniques and approaches to these diseases.
Liver Growth and Differentiation
Faculty researchers are defining the molecular controls of liver cells with the eventual goals of replacing live function, rebuilding a damaged liver, or correcting genetic defects in liver tissue. Funded projects are investigating hepatic growth factors and receptors, hepatic gene regulation and transcription factors, liver stem cells, carcinogenesis, bile duct cell growth and differentiation, hepatocyte culture and gene therapy, development of an artificial liver, and hepatic cancer.
Pathogenesis of Neurodegeneration
Pathology faculty has pioneered the use of molecular techniques to assess viral burden and neurologic damage in the brain. Current research focuses on neuronal and glial pathobiology in viral infections of the human brain and in Alzheimer's disease; for these studies, researchers utilize contemporary technologies including laser confocal microscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and molecular cloning of novel genes. Funded projects include quantification of the intra-CNS immune response, characterization of a novel gene expressed in neural development and degeneration, prevention of neuronal loss during retroviral infections, the use of primary human embryonic and adult neuroglial cultures to model HIV infection of the brain, identifying mechanisms of motor neuron death in Lou Gehrig's disease, and neuro transplantation as a therapy for Parkinson's disease.
Many CMP faculty work on problems of Regenerative Medicine together with colleagues from the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine together with colleagues from the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (MIRM) and the Center for Vascular Remodeling and Regeneration (CVRR). Areas of interest include tissue regeneration (liver and kidney), wound healing, cell-cell/cell-ECM interactions with growth factors in whole organ structure (especially liver, lunch, and brain), as well as the organ vasculature. In conjunction with CMP, the Pathology department houses two NIH-funded training programs related to these two areas of study. As their names indicate, the CATER program centers on Cellular Approaches to Tissue Engineering and Regeneration, often using a "stem" cell approach, while the Angiopathy Training Program (ATP) focuses on relationships between organ disease and vasculature dysfunction.