Prof. Joseph Roche wins first place and $10K in AR3T pitch competition

Wayne State University Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Associate Professor of Physical Therapy Joseph Roche won first place in the pitch competition held at the 9th Annual International Symposium on Regenerative Rehabilitation. The event was hosted by the NIH-supported Alliance for Regenerative Rehabilitation Research and Training (AR3T) in Austin, TX, in October 2022. 

The winners of the AR3T pitch competition
Left to right: Ella D'amico, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, co-first-place winner; Joseph Roche, WSU Applebaum, co-first-place winner; Daniel Cottmeyer, Georgia State University, runner-up. 

The competition, funded by AR3T, was designed to support novel directions in regenerative rehabilitation research.

Roche explained, "My pitch was to combine muscle-generating bioabsorbable tubes and dosage-adjusted resistance training to regrow functional muscle tissue, in pathologies where the loss of muscle mass and strength is irreversible with standard clinical practices, such as physical rehabilitation." 

Applicants presented their three-minute pitches to a panel of judges during the symposium's opening reception on Thursday, Oct. 27, and the winners were announced during the closing statements on Saturday, Oct. 29. They were scored on technical feasibility, potential to impact regenerative rehabilitation research, innovation and overall presentation.

Roche will receive a $10,000 grant to support the research project outlined in his pitch. 

"I have developed and published novel minimally invasive methods, which can be leveraged to implant bioabsorbable tubes packed with reporter-positive muscle stem cells and decellularized muscle matrix into host mouse muscle, and then stimulate muscle growth with dosage-adjusted resistance training," Roche said. "If successful, the technology can be further optimized and scaled up for clinical trials in humans."

Roche also moderated a panel at the symposium, "How to Build a Better Mouse Trap: Innovations in Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Rehabilitation."

The Symposium on Regenerative Rehabilitation draws renowned researchers and clinicians from around the world, focusing on this emerging field, which combines discoveries in tissue engineering and cellular therapies with rehabilitative treatments, resulting in improved functional outcomes for patients. The event encourages the participation of scientists, clinicians and physical therapists in the fields of regenerative medicine, engineering, physical medicine, rehabilitation and more, and aims to create a platform for bridging these areas of expertise in a setting that fosters discussion, interaction, cross-discipline pollination and networking.

An anchor in urban health care

The Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is built on more than 100 years of tradition and innovation in the heart of Detroit. We have grown deep roots in our city, harnessing its powerhouse hospital systems and community service organizations as vibrant, real-world training grounds for students, with an ongoing focus on social justice in health care. And our research at all levels – from undergraduates to veteran faculty members – translates into creative solutions for healthier communities.

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering approximately 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 25,000 students.

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