The Department of Defense is providing $80 million to establish a bio-research and manufacturing institute in Manchester, New Hampshire, to develop transplant tissues and organs for injured American soldiers and other patients.
The five-year award was announced Wednesday by Democratic U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan. All three were strong supporters of locating the institute in Manchester and had urged the Defense Department to support the project.
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"This is a monumental investment in the future of New Hampshire and further establishes this region as a hub for scientific research and development," they said in a statement. "This is an immense and critically important mission and we have full faith in this esteemed coalition as they take on this research that will save lives on the battlefield as well as here at home."
The Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute will be led by a collation that includes DEKA Research and Development Corp., the University of New Hampshire and Dartmouth-Hitchcock. Officials said it will bring good jobs to Manchester and give the state's college graduates opportunities to work on cutting edge biomedical research.
Both UNH Manchester and DEKA are in Manchester's Amoskeag Millyard, allowing for efficient communication and coordination, said University of New Hampshire President Mark Huddleston. He said the campus will serve as the home of a cell culture training facility for students and workers from throughout the region.
"UNH has vibrant and extensive life sciences research, education and workforce development programs, with particular strengths in cellular biology, biomedical sciences and bioengineering. We are honored by this recognition from the Department of Defense for our leadership in STEM education and workforce development," he said.
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The institute is the 12th manufacturing hub awarded by the Obama administration. According to the White House, it will develop techniques for repairing and replacing cells in tissues, possibly leading to the ability to make new skin for soldiers scarred from combat and technology to preserve organs for those waiting for transplants.
Beyond being economically and scientifically important for the state, the institute's work will be transformational for future organ transplant patients, said Dr. James Weinstein, CEO and President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock.
He believes researchers will develop ways to make tissue on structured frameworks that could be implantable within five years.
"It's extremely important for our veterans who lose limbs and organs that we might be able to make them new ones using stem cells and 3-D printing," he said. "This is going to be foundational and groundbreaking work for the future of our country and our world."