European Research Council Advanced Grants are awarded to researchers with established careers to pursue a ground-breaking, high-risk projects. Advanced ERC grants are announced annually to leading researchers with a significant record of research achievements. The funding supports ground-breaking projects with the potential to make major impact within a research field.
The 4D-BOUNDARIES project will leverage emerging 3D bioprinting technologies to provide precisely controlled physical and biochemical signals to cells to engineer structurally and mechanically functional musculoskeletal tissues.
Damage to musculoskeletal tissues such as articular cartilage and meniscus initiates the debilitating disease of osteoarthritis (OA), a disease of the joint affecting millions of people worldwide. This has motivated the development of tissue engineering strategies that aim to grow replacement tissues in the lab that can be used to promote the functional regeneration of damaged and diseased joints.
4D-BOUNDARIES will build upon Prof. Kelly’s extensive expertise in 3D bioprinting to produce two new bioprinting platforms that provide temporary guiding structures to self-organizing tissues. To demonstrate the utility of these bioprinting platforms they will be used to engineer, for the first time, patient-specific cartilage and meniscal grafts that mimic the internal and external anatomy
Professor Kelly, who has previously won ERC Starting, Consolidator and Proof-of-Concept Grants, said:
“My team has spent over 15 years exploring how different tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting strategies can potentially be used to regenerate damaged tissues and organs. This past work has provided us with a strong understanding of the benefits and limitations of existing technologies, which will be leveraged within the 4D-BOUNDARIES project as we seek to develop new bioprinting platforms capable of engineering truly functional living tissues.
“We believe the outputs from the project will eventually impact the clinical treatment of damaged joints and lessen the burden of diseases like arthritis.”
Professor Michael Morris, Director of AMBER, commented on the announcement, saying:
“We wish to congratulate Prof. Kelly on this award and acknowledge the significance of the research he and his team are undertaking. Prof. Kelly’s most recent grant builds AMBER’s track record in delivering excellent science through ERC awards, with a total of 22 since 2013. Our innovative research sits at the forefront of materials science and bioengineering globally which has considerable potential for translation into economic and societal benefits to Ireland and beyond.”