Christine E. Schmidt, Ph.D., 2008 Life Sciences Award

Written by on August 10, 2008 in 2008, Life Sciences Award, Researcher

Christine Schmidt

Christine E. Schmidt, Ph.D.

Laurence E. McMakin Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Chemical Engineering
The University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Schmidt is conducting research in neural cell and tissue engineering, a subfield within bioengineering. Dr. Schmidt has invented a chemical process to modify human nerve tissue so it may be utilized for patients with nerve damage. In particular, she works on engineering advanced biomaterials and therapeutic devices to stimulate damaged peripheral and spinal neurons to regenerate to promote healing of damaged nerve tissue due to traumatic injuries, cancer and other diseases.

As one of her advocates stated, “Few engineers are working on the problem of neural regeneration (much of the research is strictly biological), and there are not other researchers utilizing a holistic approach to understand and stylize such a broad range of signals (electrical, chemical, biological, mechanical) for stimulating nerve regeneration.”

Currently, there is no adequate off-the-shelf option for nerve injuries suffered by over 10,000 people annually. One of Dr. Schmidt’s technologies was licensed to AxoGen Inc., which initiated clinical trials last year. To date, over 100 of AxoGen’s AVANCE nerve grafts have been successfully implanted into patients with peripheral nerve injuries. She is also developing other advanced biomaterials, based on hyaluronic acid nature biopolymers and synthetic electrically conducting polymers, for both peripheral and spinal cord nerve regeneration.

Dr. Schmidt is world-known for her expertise and contributions in neural engineering. She is a frequent keynote speaker at international conferences and workshops and has written extensively on the subject in the highest quality of journals. She currently serves on the Editorial Boards for the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, Journal of Biomaterials Science, Polymer Edition, International Journal of Nanomedicine, and the Encyclopedia of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering.

Dr. Schmidt received a B.S. in chemical engineering from UT Austin and a Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was an NIH postdoctoral research fellow with Dr. Robert Langer at MIT for 18 months, during which time she collaborated with surgeons at Harvard Medical School in the area of nerve regeneration.

The Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation is honored to have had the assistance of the following distinguished individuals serving on the 2008 Life Sciences Awards Evaluation Committee:

  • Russel A. Bantham, Esquire
  • Dr. Diane Bunce
    Department of Chemistry
    The Catholic University of America
  • Dr. Patrick Clemins
    Division of Biological Infrastructure
    National Science Foundation
  • Dr. Edward Eisenstein
    Director & Associate Professor
    University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute
  • Dr. Brent Miller
    Directorate for Biosciences
    National Science Foundation
  • Dr. Venigalla Rao
    Department of Biology
    The Catholic University of America
  • Dr. Reid Schwebach
    Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings
    National Science Foundation
  • Dr. Phillip A. Singerman
    Senior Vice President
    B&D Consulting
  • Dr. John Trant
    Associate Vice President, Academic Affairs
    University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute


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