Newswise — Winston Salem, NC – January 22, 2024 - The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, part of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, has been selected to lead the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) Consortium. The project - a $40 million, five year-long award from the Defense Health Agency (DHA) - will focus on taking regenerative medicine solutions for battlefield injuries to the next level, and ultimately to the general public.

Regenerative medicine is a science that takes advantage of the body's natural abilities to restore or replace damaged tissue and organs. WFIRM has managed two prior AFIRM consortia since 2008 that resulted in over 20 clinical studies for innovative regenerative medicine therapies, including new treatments for burns and limb, genitourinary, facial and skull injuries.

This 2023 initiative by the US Army Medical Research and Development Command (MRDC) and Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) will renew efforts from previous projects while bringing original ideas and the latest technologies to the research. The goal is to bring measurable acceleration to clinical products through robust partnerships.

The team will focus on developing clinical therapies over the next 5 years in the areas of:

  • Craniofacial regeneration
  • Extremity regeneration
  • Genitourinary/lower abdomen
  • Skin and wound healing
  • On-demand blood
  • Cellular therapies for trauma

“The consortium is composed of partners from academia and industry. We look forward to meeting the goal of the new AFIRM to accelerate the transition of regenerative medicine solutions into clinical use, and to improve the lives of our wounded service members, veterans, and the American public,” said Anthony Atala, M.D., lead investigator for AFIRM and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

“Regenerative medicine therapies are not just treatments, but a lifeline for our military’s healthcare future. Through the leadership of AFIRM and the expertise of the Combat Casualty Care Team, we will build a better experience for those who have devoted their lives to our nation,” stated Captain Travis M. Polk, MD, FACS, Director for the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program.

“All AFIRM projects are ‘results-focused,’ not only funding scientific research but requiring that discoveries be tested and compared so that the most promising can be brought to clinical trials,” explained William Wagner, Ph.D., co-director for AFIRM and professor of bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. The University of Pittsburgh is a partner on the grant.

MTEC is a non-profit partnership of international biomedical technology companies collaborating with multiple government agencies, working with MRDC under the Other Transactions Authority (OTA). WFIRM, MTEC, and MRDC will be bringing together Regenerative Medicine research and clinical studies to provide new products and healing therapies for U.S. military personnel and civilians.


About Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine:

The Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine is recognized as an international leader in translating scientific discovery into clinical therapies, with many world firsts, including the development and implantation of the first engineered organ in a patient. Over 450 people at the institute, the largest in the world, work on more than 40 different tissues and organs. A number of the basic principles of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine were first developed at the institute. WFIRM researchers have successfully engineered replacement tissues and organs in all four categories – flat structures, tubular tissues, hollow organs and solid organs – and 16 different applications of cell/tissue therapy technologies, such as skin, urethras, cartilage, bladders, muscle, kidney, and vaginal organs, have been successfully used in human patients. The institute, which is part of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, is located in the Innovation Quarter in downtown Winston-Salem, NC, and is driven by the urgent needs of patients. The institute is making a global difference in regenerative medicine through collaborations with over 500 entities and institutions worldwide, through its government, academic and industry partnerships, its start-up entities, and through major initiatives in breakthrough technologies, such as tissue engineering, cell therapies, diagnostics, drug discovery, biomanufacturing, nanotechnology, gene editing and 3D printing.


USAMRDC is the Army's medical materiel developer, with responsibility for medical research, development and acquisition in a variety of areas integral to Soldier health and resiliency. For more information, visit: