Director's Message

The power to heal is one of the greatest gifts we possess. Medical advances have given us the ability to treat and even prevent many diseases and injuries that were life-threatening just a few generations ago. Helping the body to heal has always been at the forefront of medical practice, accelerating recovery that minimizes infirmity and maximizes quality of life. Our bodies possess remarkable potential to repair themselves and continue to do so throughout our entire lifetime. However, our bodies can be overwhelmed by injury or lose the ability to heal with age, leaving doctors no alternative but to surgically replace damaged tissues or organs. While surgical interventions remain marvels of modern technology, such heroic maneuvers are limited by organ availability, invasive procedures, high cost, and the challenges of post-operative recovery. One of the greatest challenges for current medical care is to harness the power to heal when doctors can’t coax the body to repair itself. And scientists are meeting this challenge head-on with new knowledge and revolutionary findings at thefrontier of discovery that pushes back the limits of medicine in the rapidly developing field of regenerative research.

Less than a decade ago the prevailing wisdom was some parts of the body couldn’t heal after being damaged. A heart attack left a scar that would never beat again; a stroke blotted out a part of the brain that was irreplaceable. We were toldthat upon reaching adulthood our bodies were custodians of a fixed number of cells in some organs that once lost were gone forever, unlike our blood that could be replenished if lost or our skin that could recover from a scrape or burn. We accepted that the heart or brain cells we possessed after leaving childhood were the only ones we would have for our entire lives. Certain types of cells in the body just didn’t reproduce or were poor at making more copies of themselves. And there seemed little reason to challenge the dogma. That is, until the turn of the 21st century when a series of landmark scientific discoveries showed that we were looking at the wrong cells. And now over a decade later, the field of regenerative research is exploding with excitement over the powerful properties of stem cells and the healing potential they possess.

There is no doubt that a scientific and medical revolution in regenerative research is underway, and the Integrated Regenerative Research Institute (IRRI) at San Diego State University continues to spearhead advances at the forefront of the field. SDSU and IRRI leading the way by engaging the scientific and local community together to advance understanding and accelerate delivery of this groundbreaking work to improve global health.

© IRRI 2012