Congratulations to Christine Schmidt, Ph.D., professor and department chair, who was awarded the 2021 Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society – Americas Chapter (TERMIS–AM) Commercialization/Innovation Award.
Schmidt was nominated by Cherie Stabler, Ph.D., professor and Integra Lifesciences Term Professor, who stated the following:
Throughout her academic tenure, Dr Schmidt’s has made substantial and original research contributions to the field of TERM. Dr. Schmidt’s research has had impact on (1) novel forms of conducting polymers for biomedical applications, and (2) natural-based materials (e.g., hyaluronic acid hydrogels, tissue-derived scaffolds) for wound healing and nerve repair. Dr. Schmidt has published articles in highly respected journals in the biomaterials field, including Acta Biomaterialia, Biomaterials, Advanced Materials, Advanced Functional Materials, Nature Materials, Science, Tissue Engineering, and JACS. Dr. Schmidt’s research has been well cited (H-index = 60, >19,000 total citations; Google Scholar) and highlighted in Nature, Scientific American, Business Week, Science News, and a number of national and local-based TV and radio news channels (e.g., NPR). Dr. Schmidt’s contributions are also recognized nationally and internationally as a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), the American Society for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the International Union of Societies for Biomaterials Science and Engineering (FBSE/IUSBSE), and the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering (IAMBE). She has also received numerous honors and awards for her research, innovation, mentoring, and teaching, including the Clemson Award for Applied Research from the Society for Biomaterials, the American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellowship from NSF’s Division of Materials Research, the Chairmen’s Distinguished Life Sciences Award by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and an NSF CAREER Award. She was honored as a Distinguished Alumnus of the Cockrell School of Engineering at UT Austin in 2012 and is a member of the inaugural class of the Academy of Distinguished Chemical Engineers for the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering at UT Austin. She is also a recent inductee into the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame and an elected member of the Florida Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine of Florida.
In addition to the development of innovative materials and original research publications, Dr Schmidt has shown a particular acumen in the translation of her prototypes from concept to the clinic, which makes her TERM contributions particularly well suited for this TERMIS-AM award. Dr. Schmidt’s research has resulted in numerous patents (24 issued US patents) that are licensed tocompanies, including AxoGen, Alafair Biosciences (Schmidt Lab start-up company), Smith and Nephew, and Siluria Technologies. Dr. Schmidt’s technology for processing decellularized nerve tissue was licensed to AxoGen in Alachua, Florida for the AVANCETM nerve graft. Many tens of thousands (>50,000) of AxoGen’s AVANCETM grafts have been implanted in patients globally. Using a novel in situ crystallization processing technique, Dr. Schmidt’s team created mechanically robust hyaluronic acid-based hydrogel films that can be easily handled, sutured, and delivered laparoscopically. This research is the basis of Alafair Biosciences, a start-up company in Austin, TX, which is run by Dr. Schmidt’s PhD graduate and a collaborator. Alafair’s first product, VersaWrapTM Tendon Protector, has been implanted in more than 2000 patients since December 2017, and VersaWrapTM Nerve Protector was FDA approved in Fall 2020. The FDA recently approved in March 2021 the use of VersaWrap for ligament and skeletal muscle.
Schmidt will be presented with a plaque recognizing her achievement during the awards ceremony that will be conducted at the 2022 TERMIS-AM conference in Toronto, Canada from July 10-13.