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07-24-2012

Clarkson University's Forgacs Recognized for Pioneering Work in Tissue Engineering

Gabor Forgacs, the executive & scientific director of Clarkson University’s Shipley Center for Innovation and the Karel K. Czanderna ’77 and W. Dan Shirkey ’80 Professor in Physics, has been awarded the AutoVision Innovations Award from Germany’s prestigious 2b AHEAD ThinkTank.

Left to right: Jörg Munzel, head of AutoVision GmbH; Ilka Groenewold, moderator; Forgacs; and Gabor Swen Janszky, director of 2b AHEAD ThinkTank. This award for the most innovative technological development over the past 12 months recognizes Forgacs’ pioneering work in 3D bioprinting. This technology to fabricate animal and human tissue on demand can eventually lead to organ replacement and will also speed up drug development.

“I’m a theoretical physicist turned biological physicist, turned tissue engineer, turned entrepreneur,” says Forgacs. The award, presented to Forgacs last month at the 2b AHEAD ThinkTank's Future Congress in Wolfsburg, Germany, is the most recent in a long line of honors.

Forgacs is the author of more than 160 peer-reviewed scientific articles and five books. He taught physics at Clarkson from 1986 until 2000, when he was offered a position at the University of Missouri. There, he led a group of 12-15 scientists who developed bioprinting technology that they realized could have commercial applications.

Forgacs then became the scientific founder of the biotech company Organovo. The San Diego-based company created one of the world’s first 3D tissue printers, which Time magazine selected as one of the “Best Inventions of 2010.” He was also named one of the “100 most innovative people in business in 2010” by FastCompany.

“Bioprinting produces functional, architecturally correct tissues that could be used for the regeneration, improvement and replacement of damaged ones,” says Forgacs. “Pharmaceutical companies are very much embracing this technology as it can also be employed for drug development and save billions of dollars.”

In 2009, Forgacs returned to Clarkson as head of the Shipley Center for Innovation. His blend of skills in science and business is especially suited to the center and its mission to accelerate the commercialization of discovery-driven Clarkson innovations into the marketplace, to foster and accelerate the exchange of ideas between the various schools on campus and industry and to prepare and educate the faculty and students for the 21st century entrepreneurial workplace.

At the end of last year, he established a second biotech company, “Modern Meadow,” which uses technology similar to Organovo.

“The main focus of Modern Meadow is the engineering of leather from animal cells without slaughtering any animal. Meat and leather are resource intensive for land and water so present industrial meat and leather production is not sustainable,” he says. “It’s amazing the reaction we are getting with investors.”

“All my activities are related and build on my academic career,” says Forgacs. “This is a very rewarding time. I started out as an academic scientist and never dreamed of doing something so useful for society."

Clarkson University launches leaders into the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as a CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. Located just outside the Adirondack Park in Potsdam, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university for undergraduates with select graduate programs in signature areas of academic excellence directed toward the world’s pressing issues. Through 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, sciences and health sciences, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo, and connect discovery and engineering innovation with enterprise.

[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/forgacs-autovision-award.jpg .]

Photo caption: Gabor Forgacs, the executive & scientific director of Clarkson University’s Shipley Center for Innovation and the Karel K. Czanderna ’77 and W. Dan Shirkey ’80 Professor in Physics, has been awarded the AutoVision Innovations Award from Germany’s prestigious 2b AHEAD ThinkTank. Left to right: Jörg Munzel, head of AutoVision GmbH; Ilka Groenewold, moderator; Forgacs; and Gabor Swen Janszky, director of 2b AHEAD ThinkTank.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Michael P. Griffin, director of News & Digital Content Services, at 315-268-6716 or mgriffin@clarkson.edu.]

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