Press Release

January 17, 2008

U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) today announced $3 million in new federal funding for the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s program to develop new tissue transplantation techniques that could benefit soldiers and others who have been severely injured.
U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and
U.S. Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD) both strongly supported funding for the tissue transplant research program.


The University of Maryland School of Medicine’s groundbreaking research, under the direction of Stephen Bartlett, MD, professor and chairman of the Department of Surgery, would allow for tissue transplants with reduced doses of
 powerful immunosuppression drugs.
  Currently, transplants require the use of powerful drugs to dampen the body’s natural immune system, which would otherwise reject the transplanted tissue.
  These drugs can cause serious side effects, especially if they are used over many years.
 Soldiers with war injuries who might benefit from massive tissue transplants of skin, muscle and bone, which are known as composite tissue transplants, would require a lifetime
 of immunosuppression drugs.


This new federal funding will allow further research into the development of composite tissue transplants — including facial and limb transplants — which would not require high doses of immunosuppression therapy. With a reduced immune suppression protocol, composite tissue transplantation, including facial transplants, become feasible.


The U.S. Department of Defense has reported that approximately 31,000 U.S. military personnel have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan; nearly 500 of those are Marylanders.


“Every day we hear news of suicide bombs and land mines killing and maiming Americans.
  I am proud to announce $3 million in new federal funding that will help the University of Maryland School of Medicine move forward with its groundbreaking research that could help many of our wounded soldiers avoid serious complications from tissue transplantation,” said Senator Cardin, the Senate sponsor of this funding.


“Our research is possible because of Senator Cardin’s hard work, vision and leadership,” said Dr. Bartlett. “Senator Cardin understands the scientific importance and the opportunity to translate this scientific work into new treatments for military and civilian casualties.”


“The support of our longtime friends Senator Benjamin Cardin and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger is invaluable to the University of Maryland School of Medicine,” said E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, dean of the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “The exciting developments in Dr. Bartlett’s tissue transplant research will one day soon have a direct benefit to the men and women of our armed forces and will reach beyond the walls of this campus and into the operating rooms of our nation’s military hospitals. I am very pleased to say that the University of Maryland School of Medicine truly has a world-wide impact.”