Sharing Knowledge, Building Community

Primary tabs

HILTON HEAD, S.C. – Every year since 1997, scientists, engineers, physicians and industry partners gather for the Regenerative Medicine Workshop. It’s one of the signs that spring has officially arrived on Hilton Head. And it continues to serve as an annual, living example of Bob Nerem’s favorite axiom.

“You know how life is all about people? Research is all about people, too,” says Nerem, founding director of the Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, who launched the workshop. “With that philosophy, it only makes sense to get our friends in the research community down here for a workshop.”

This year’s edition of the workshop (May 13-16) brought more than 170 people (engineers, scientists, clinicians, and industry partners) to the Sea Pines Resort and Conference Center. The collaborative groups have become as much a part of the workshop as the lectures on induced pluripotent stem cells or immunoengineering. The event is as much about building community as it is about sharing groundbreaking science, which has kind of changed from year to year.

“The first workshop was focused on biomaterials and tissue engineering and we periodically change the topics,” says Nerem, who launched the workshop. This year’s edition was subtitled, “Discovery, Technologies and Translation.” Past workshops have focused on computational biology, approaches to regenerative medicine, and the biology and tissue engineering of heart valves, “basically, all topics in which we’re really interested,” Nerem adds.

When Nerem retired as director of the Petit Institute he turned over chairmanship of the workshop organizing committee to current executive director Bob Guldberg, who has taken the gathering to new levels, bringing aboard the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Wisconsin as co-sponsors of the event, along with the Center for Regenerative Engineering and Medicine, a collaborative research initiative of Georgia Tech, Emory and the University of Georgia.

This year’s event drew an international collection of more than 30 institutions, represented by an eclectic array of researchers, including the graduate students who delivered rapid-fire presentations and/or took over the conference room Thursday night for a massive poster session, with more than 60 posters on display.

It’s nice to have so much science in one place at one time, especially for researchers looking to collaborate down the road. It’s even nicer to do it on Hilton Head. But interest in the Regenerative Medicine Workshop among a growing, wider range of universities and other research institutions may be a reflection of the rapidly evolving nature of the field.

“Every year I wonder, ‘how can we possibly top this next year?’ But I think a big reason the workshop seems to get better and better is how quickly changes are happening in the regenerative medicine field right now,” Guldberg says. “Not just in terms of the science but also policy and ethical issues, as we discussed in our panel on precision regenerative medicine and the clinical translation and commercialization landscapes.  It’s a very exciting time and I can’t wait until next year’s workshop!”


Jerry Grillo
Communications Officer II
Parker H. Petit Institute for
Bioengineering and Bioscience


  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Jerry Grillo
  • Created:05/20/2015
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016