Farshid Guilak, Ph.D., research director at Shriners Children’s St. Louis, recently received one of the highest honors in the field of health and medicine: He was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.
Guilak will be inducted as part of the class of 2022. This comes the same year he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Inventors. These academies are reserved for individuals who “show outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.”
An opportunity to make a difference
Guilak’s membership in all three academies gives him a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in the fields of health, medicine and innovation.
“The roles of these academies are to advise the government on any issues related to engineering or medicine. I am truly honored to have the opportunity to play a role in this capacity at the national level and bring more attention to the importance of interdisciplinary work that spans engineering and medicine,” said Guilak.
Expanding the possibilities
Currently, Guilak leads more than a dozen research projects focusing on preventing and/or slowing the degenerative effects of osteoarthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. However, he says the National Academies of Medicine and of Engineering have specifically taken notice of the lab’s work in cell engineering.
Through decades of work, Guilak’s team has used genome engineering to create a cell that doesn’t exist normally in nature. The cell can release a drug if/when it senses inflammation in the body. A study showed that the modified cells, when put into cartilage, can eliminate pain and prevent degeneration any time an inflammation flare-up is imminent. He hopes to bring this treatment option to patients, in the form of a clinical trial, within the next 10 years.