Recipient of the Mr. & Mrs. Charles S.S. Chow Research Scholarship

Drs. Rui Liang and Savio Woo

In October 2003, I started to work as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Musculoskeletal Research Center (MSRC), in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. Under the direction of Dr. Savio L-Y. Woo, as well as with the collaboration and help from many other MSRC personnel, I was able to enrich myself with the knowledge of science, with the ability to conduct independent research, with the confidence of leadership, and most importantly, with the philosophy of life in various aspects. At the end of my training, I was highly honored to receive the Mr. and Mrs. Charles S.S. Chow Research Scholarship for the second time, which assisted me to finish my research projects at the MSRC.

My research specifically focuses on understanding the mechanisms of ligament and tendon healing, improving healing, and regenerating these extremely important body structures through various tissue engineering methods, specifically gene, cell, and scaffold therapy. As it is well-known, the human ligaments and tendons are very important structures in maintaining body strength, mobility and stability. Injuries can often lead to joint instability and absences from work and athletic activities. My team and I found that the healing process of the injured Medial Cruciate Ligament (MCL) could be accelerated and improved with the application of a bioscaffold derived from porcine extracellar matrix (ECM). We looked at the mechanisms at the molecu- lar levels and conducted multidisciplinary studies to evaluate the results. Encouraged by the findings, we also successfully improved the healing of patellar tendon after grafted for Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Currently, we have improved the ECM bioscaffold with various methods and applied the novel ECM bioscaffold to regenerate ruptured ACL, the Holy Grail. Our preliminary results are promising, and it is good to know that we are getting closer and closer to our final goal: help patients to regain a strong and normal ACL. Needless to say, all this work has been heartedly supported and kindly guided by Dr. Woo. Also, the optimistic and hard work of group members, Dr. Yoshi Takakura, Mr. Daniel Moon, Dr. Tan Nguyen, Dr. Ping-Cheng, Liu, Dr. Yin-Chih Fu, Dr. Sinan Karaoglu, Dr. Matthew Fisher and many other graduate students and undergraduate students, was indispensable for making these achievements.

With the generosity of the Chow Research Scholarship, I was able to wrap up my research at the MSRC. I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Charles S.S. Chow and the ASIAM Institute Board of Directors for this prestigious honor. Finally, I am very grateful for my family, my husband, Zheng Ma and my son, Zhao Liang Ma for their unselfish love as the source of energy where I get recharged.