Anthony's Open Road

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ANTHONY ATALA

Director
Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

“Nothing I ever planned in my life turned out the way that I thought it would…just went in totally different directions at every single step.”

INTERESTS:

Medicine Science

THEMES DISCUSSED:

Conflict Community Planning Inspiration

TAGS:

change, childhood, education system, experimenting, exposure, family doctor, house calls, human cells, improvement, learning, medical school, organs, physician, research, surgeon, teaching

BIOGRAPHY:

Growing up, Anthony Atala had fond memories of his family doctor that would make house calls. He remembered thinking how great it was that this doctor still came to family's homes, and how he looked forward to his visits. That's when Anthony first began to think that maybe he wanted to be a doctor, too. But he didn't know if he really wanted to spend all those years going through the educational process to become one. Despite his hesitations, Anthony knew that he did want that and set out on a path to become a primary care physician. But Anthony's trajectory that he originally set for himself, didn't quite pan out the way he saw it. He actually ended up becoming a surgeon and specializing in research in regenerative medicine—a practice that aims to help diseased or damaged organs and tissues in the body by using the body's own healthy cells. Anthony's work has led him to gain notability in the field. In 2007, he and a team of Harvard University researchers showed that stem cells can be created from the amniotic fluid of pregnant women. He also led a team that developed the first lab-grown bladder to be implanted in a human. This, and other breakthroughs, has made Anthony a pioneer and advocate in regenerative medicine.

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