Jason a. wertheim
Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery (Organ Transplantation Division)
PhD (2002) University of Pennsylvania
MD (2004) University of Pennsylvania
Jason Wertheim focuses on developing new methods to develop livers and kidneys in the laboratory to alleviate the organ shortage dilemma. His work involves a multidisciplinary tissue engineering approach with the goal of rehabilitating the extracellular matrix of organs that are not initially suitable for transplantation. In contrast to the traditional model in tissue engineering that involves growing cells on synthetic polymer scaffolds to recreate the organ or tissue of interest, Wertheim’s approach uses the natural extracellular matrix as a scaffold to support the growth of new cells capable of repopulating and rehabilitating a scarred organ. Wertheim aims to modify the extracellular matrix using bionanotechnology through a targeted approach to manipulate cell homing, differentiation, and proliferation. The regenerating organs are prepared from a donor matrix and repopulated using specially selected progenitor cells. The re-engineered organ will then be ready for implantation when progressive organ failure indicates the need for transplantation. These just-in-time organs, reconstituted with recipient derived progenitor cells, will eliminate long waiting times for organs and the associated waitlist mortality, reduce the reliance on organs from living donors, and obviate the need for immunosuppression.