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Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative receives high marks, but maturing organization faces challenges, including loss of its founder
DOWNTOWN - One of the Pittsburgh area's boldest economic development initiatives is at a crossroads.
The Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative is laying out a strategy for its future once Dr. Peter Johnson, the initiative's founder and executive director, leaves his post on Dec. 31.
A national search for a permanent replacement has begun, but in the interim, the initiatives board has chosen as its executive director Alan Russell, a PTEI associate director and chairman of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering.
Since its inception in 1995, the initiative has landed $3.33 million in private funding, disbursed $840,000 in seed grants to local university researchers and spawned four new companies.
Dr. Johnson will become chief executive officer of one of those four firms, but his new post will thrust the initiative into a period of transition at a crucial time.
The transition poses a significant challenge for PTEI, deemed by many to be sucCessful thus far. Will it be able to maintain the necessary momentum in a region known for rivalry and competition among its economic development efforts?
FRAMEWORK FOR GROWTH
Tissue engineering is an emerging industry that aims to grow cells and tissues to replace or support defective or injured body parts. PTEI is trying to use the strengths of Pittsburgh's universities and medical research infrastructure to …