By Wendy Sarubbi | December 8, 2015 11:26 am

Dr. Dinender Singla, a College of Medicine researcher dedicated to treating ailing hearts, has signed agreements with two international universities and is negotiating with others to partner in 3D bio printing and tissue engineering to cure America’s top killer.

UCF recently signed a collaborative research agreements with the University of Rome Tor Vergata and the University of Ankara in Turkey to create the Florida-Italy and Florida-Turkey Tissue Engineer International Programs to facilitate research and training in tissue engineering and 3D printing. The College of Medicine’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, where Dr. Singla teaches and conducts research, will provide the lab and testing infrastructure and expertise in stem cells and regenerative medicine. The universities in Rome and Turkey will provide specific tissue engineering and 3D printing techniques they have developed and share their sophisticated cardiac disease models.

Dr. Singla’s research specialty is injecting stem cells into a heart that has been affected by cell death, oxidative stress and inflammation due to heart failure and or atherosclerosis. His studies have found that the stem cells can create new heart cells to repair the damaged organ. The challenge is that the injected cells often die before they can grow into heart cells in large enough quantities. So he is working to develop a 3D printed biocell that will be more resilient and organized. He is also investigating how bio printing can create actual new hearts or models that surgeons can use to see preoperatively where a blockage is located.

The international collaborations will allow UCF and the international institutions to create joint research projects and international symposia, share technology and expertise, and allow student exchanges. Increasing international educational opportunities is a key focus of the university as a whole. “Our goal is to enhance international collaboration,” said Dr. Singla, who often presents his work internationally. “We have an opportunity to reach across the globe and connect with people.”

Professor Paolo Di Nardo, who has developed working on models for heart disease and diabetes at the University of Rome, visited the college’s Burnett School in September and met with a variety of researchers interested in collaborating and sharing expertise. Dr. Singla is also in discussions with universities in Brazil, Saudi Arabia and India who are interested in similar partnerships. One of the universities, for example, is interested in sending its M.D. students to UCF over the summer to gain research training. Dr. Singla said the partnerships can also increase the number of qualified graduate students applying to the Burnett School. “As a new medical school we are interested in new opportunities and new ventures,” he said. “And they are here. I am pleased to see international efforts are growing in our College of Medicine.”

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