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Joseph P. Vacanti, MD

Joseph P. Vacanti, MD, Scientific Founder of 3D BioLabs LLC and

John Homans Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School

Chief, Department of Pediatric Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Emeritus Surgeon-in-Chief, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Emeritus

Co-Director, Center for Regenerative Medicine, MGH

Director, Laboratory for Tissue Engineering and Organ Fabrication, MGH


Dr. Joseph Vacanti received his Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, from Creighton University in 1970 and graduated first in his class. He received his MD, with high distinction, from University of Nebraska College of Medicine, and an MS from Harvard Medical School. He trained in General Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital, in Pediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital, Boston, and Transplantation at the University of Pittsburgh.


As an academic surgeon, Dr. Vacanti has been active in clinical innovation as well as basic research. He instituted New England’s first successful pediatric ECMO program in 1984 while at Children’s Hospital Boston. As well, he began the nation’s first liver transplantation program specifically for the pediatric population. Dr. Vacanti has been working in the field of tissue engineering since its beginning in the early 1980s – a mission that stems from his long-held interest in solving the problem of organ shortages. His approach to developing tissue involves a scaffold made of a biodegradable polymer, seeding it with living cells, and bathing it in growth factors. The cells can come from living tissue or stem cells. The cells multiply, filling the scaffold, and growing into a three-dimensional tissue. Once implanted in the body, the cells recreate their proper tissue function, blood vessels grow into the new tissue, the scaffold degrades, and lab-grown tissue becomes indistinguishable from its surroundings. Over the last 15 years, Dr. Vacanti has studied creating complete vascular networks as part of implantable tissue engineered devices which then allows the fabrication of large, complex living structures such as vital organs, extremities, or craniofacial reconstruction. To further the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, Dr. Vacanti was a founding co-president of the Tissue Engineering Society, now named the Tissue Engineering Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). It currently has 4100 active members from 80 countries worldwide. He also was founding senior editor of the journal “Tissue Engineering.” It currently serves all the members of TERMIS, 1,700 libraries in 20 countries, and is provided free online to 106 developing nations. It has over 250,000 full text downloads and 500,000 abstract downloads per year with an impact factor of approximately 4.5


Dr. Vacanti has held academic appointments at Harvard Medical School since 1974. He has authored over 320 original reports, 69 book chapters, 54 reviews, and over 473 abstracts. He has 83 patents or patents pending in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Dr. Vacanti has been the recipient of numerous awards for his contributions in surgery as well as tissue engineering and regenerative medicine.

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