George Christ, PhD
Dr. Christ is Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery and holds the Mary Muilenburg Stamp Chair in Orthopaedic Research, where he is Director of Basic and Translational Research in Orthopaedics. He is the head of The Laboratory of Regenerative Therapeutics and Co-Director of the Center for Advanced Biomanufacturing. He is the Past Chairman of the Division of Systems and Integrative Pharmacology of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET), and Past President of the North Carolina Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine (NCTERM) group. He was inducted into AIMBE in 2017. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Division for Integrative Systems, Translational and Clinical Pharmacology of ASPET. He is a member of the Regenerative Rehabilitation Consortium Leadership Council, and serves on the Leadership Advisory Council for ARMI/BioFabUSA. He received the Ray Fuller Award and Lecture (ASPET, 2018). He serves on the Editorial Board of five journals and is an ad-hoc reviewer for 2 dozen others. Dr. Christ has authored more than 225 scientific publications and is co-editor of a book on integrative smooth muscle physiology and another on regenerative pharmacology.
Dr. Christ has served on both national and international committees related to his expertise in muscle physiology, and on NIH study sections in the NIDDK, NICHD, NCRR, NAIAD, NIAMS and NHLBI. He has chaired working groups for both the NIH and the WHO and is co-inventor on more than 26 patents (national and international) either issued or pending. Dr. Christ is also spearheading several MSK-applicable translational research programs to develop novel regenerative medicine treatments for orthopaedic patients, in particular, volumetric muscle loss injuries. He leads a DOD-funded multi-institutional program for development of a tissue engineered muscle repair (TEMR) technology platform for the treatment of Wounded Warriors, and collaborates in another NIH and DOD funded translational multi-institutional effort as part of the C-DOCTOR consortium. Funding from the DOD and Keratin Biosciences also supports evaluation a proprietary hydrogel for the treatment of lower extremity traumatic injuries.
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Office: Room 1133
Lab: Room 1131, 1137
Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery
Mary Muilenburg Stamp Professor of Orthopaedic Research
Director of Basic and Translational Research in Orthopaedic Surgery
Head, Laboratory of Regenerative Therapeutics
Dr. Christ has a broad interest in muscle physiology, intercellular communication and the role of muscle in the function and dysfunction of visceral, vascular and voluntary tissues (i.e., skeletal muscle). His research interests include physiological genomics, that is, establishing a verifiable link between changes in gene expression and alterations in cell/organ/tissue function/dysfunction, and then using this information to improve the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of smooth muscle diseases/disorders. To this end, Dr. Christ has developed a multidisciplinary approach that utilizes various visceral and vascular smooth muscle tissues/organs to attempt to establish “cause and effect” relationships between molecular/genetic alterations and measurable changes in organ function, namely, contraction and relaxation of smooth muscle cells. Animal vascular and visceral tissues are studied both in vitro and in vivo. Molecular, biochemical, electrophysiological, pharmacological, immunochemical, and whole animal techniques (rat and mouse transgenics and knockouts) are all used to study the mechanistic basis for integrative tissue physiology, as well as tissue pathophysiology, dysfunction and therapeutic repair. Parallel in vitro studies are conducted on corresponding human tissues for target validation whenever possible.
The overall goal of his work is to translate scientific discoveries into technologies that can improve human health (i.e., translational research). In this regard, Dr. Christ is a co-inventor on more than 26 patents issued or applied for related to gene therapy treatments for smooth muscle disorders/diseases, and is the Co-Founder and Directing Member of Ion Channel Innovations, LLC., a development stage biotechnology company pioneering the use of gene therapy for the treatment of human smooth muscle disorders. Recently, Dr. Christ has also focused on the fields of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. A major focus of these efforts is to develop in vitro protocols and bioreactor systems for the accelerated maturation of engineered tissues both in vitro and in vivo; in order to further enhance their applications in regenerative medicine. In this regard, he has become extensively involved in interdisciplinary basic and translational studies directed toward muscle and vessel tissue engineering, as well as bladder regeneration, and regenerative pharmacology.
DoD/USAMRAA W81XWH-18-1-0649 (PI: G. Christ, co-PI: Dearth, Healy)
Title: Tunable Composite Biomaterials for Enhanced Neuromuscular Regeneration of Volumetric Muscle Loss Injuries
Goal: The goal is developing novel techniques for treatment of VML injuries that regenerate functional, innervated muscle units.
- Optimization and provision of the Matrix-Assisted Cell Transplantation (MACT) technology developed in the Healy lab for skeletal muscle regeneration in biologically relevant rodent models.
- Comparison of functional recovery in a rodent tibialis anterior (TA) VML injury in the following treatment groups: 1) TEMR, 2) TEMR + HyA-matrix, 3) HyA0-matrix alone, and 4) No repair.
- Evaluate the efficacy of the best performing (m-TEMR or HyA-matrix alone) technology at promoting funcational recoevery in a well validated, DoD relevant, large animal VML injury model.
Dates: 09/01/2018-11/30/2021 (NCE) Effort: 0.96 calendar month
Level of Funding: $749,931
Point of Contact: Teresa Parker-Reeser, Grants Officer; Akua Roach, PhD, PRORP Program Manager
DoD/USAMRAA W81XWH-18-2-0036 (PI: G. Christ, Co-PI: Blemker, Peirce-Cottler, Marra)
Title: Innovative Strategies for Neuromuscular Regeneration and Rehabilitation of Volumetric Muscle Loss (VML) Injures Resulting from Polytrauma
Goal: The goal of these studies is to apply computational/predictive models to improve treatment of polytraumatic VML injuries in wounded warriors, by taking into account the extent of neural damage and the proximity of neural innervation to the VML injury, at the time of treatment.
- Evaluate functional recovery from nerve damage and/or VML injury in rat TA (tibialis anterior) and GN (gastrocnemius) muscles. These studies will evaluate how the rate and magnitude of functional muscle recovery from VML injury will be affected by the timing of TEMR implantation relative to the degree of nerve damage at the time of implantation.
- Evaluate nerve regrowth and neural re-innervation of TA and GN muscles, following laceration of the peroneal and tibial nerves, respectively (Months 1-24). This Aim will provide the rigorous functional and structural analyses to determine if there is a minimum, or even a “preferred” degree of neural re- innervation required to optimize functional muscle regeneration following TEMR implantation. We will evaluate the possibility that this relationship may differ depending on the nerve and muscle involved (i.e., TA vs GN).
- Develop computational/predictive models of nerve and muscle regeneration to drive improved therapeutics for Wounded Warriors with polytraumatic VML injuries. This Aim will develop, validate, and deploy a computational/predictive model rooted in experimental data to design improvements of TEMR use for more complete functional restoration of polytraumatic VML in wounded warriors.
Dates: 08/01/2018-10/31/2021 (NCE) Effort: 1.2 calendar month
Level of Funding: $1,611,026
Point of Contact: Laurie E. Hovermale, Chief, Business Operations Division
Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corporation Catalyst Grant/ Subcontract from Old Dominion University (project PI: George Christ)
Title: Biofabrication of Regenerative Musculoskeletal Therapeutics
Goal: The overriding long-term objective of this research proposal is to develop a comprehensive regenerative medicine technology platform that will provide a musculotendinous junction (MTJ) for improved treatment and repair of extremity injuries (achilles, rotator cuff, knee (ACL)), including devastating traumatic injuries, to both wounded warriors and civilians. Dr. Christ will be accountable for managing bioreactor and pivotal UVA animal studies and reporting.
Dates: 08/01/2018-10/31/2021 Effort: 0.48 calendar months
Level of Funding: $200,000
Point of Contact: Morris Foster, VPR, Old Dominion University