Whole Organ Tissue Engineering

Proposed by:
Dr Aart van Apeldoorn (Chair; University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands),
Dr Jason Wertheim (Vice chair: Organogenesis, Northwestern University Chicago, USA), Hiroyuki Ijima (Secretary: Kyushu University, Japan) and
Dr Stephen Badylak, (McGowan institute, USA).

Other members expressing interest: Eelco de Koning (Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands), Shulamit Levenberg (Technion University, Israel), Matthias Lutolf (EPFL, Switzerland), Cherie Stabler (Diabetes Research Institute, USA), Dimitrios Stamatialis (University of Twente, The Netherlands), James Yoo (Wake Forrest University, USA), Tatsuya Shimizu (Tokyo Women's Medical University, Japan) Prof. Ohashi (Tokyo Women's Medical University, Japan), Changyong Wang, (Tissue Engineering Research Center, Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Beijing, China), Soo Hyun Kim (Biomaterials Research Center, Korea Institute of Science & Technology (KIST), Korea), Anthony Atala and Aaron Mosh (Wake Forrest University, USA)

The group is composed of members from the USA, Europe and Asia and can act as ambassadors for expanding the group and interest in the field to local scientists in the different TERMIS chapters.

Rationale of the theme
In recent years, the field of whole organ engineering has been expanding within the TERMIS community. Traditionally, musculoskeletal and cardiovascular tissue engineering activities have represented two of the dominant and most represented areas within TERMIS. However, recent discussions with some of the individuals active in organ engineering have led to the present proposal for a thematic group specifically on organ tissue engineering (including but not limited to liver, kidney, pancreas, bladder, heart, lung and gut). Organ engineering is a relatively immature venture and a small but critical mass of investigators are working in the field, underlining a need to establish international collaborations. Scientifically, there is a strong rationale for a thematic group. Many organs are related developmentally and functionally so basic research can be shared within the group. The limitations for reaching clinical practice are also similar, so new implantation strategies can be developed and discussed in a collaborative manner. Furthermore, there is an overlap in the tissue engineering strategies. For example, pancreatic engineering often uses the liver as an implantation site, yet investigators working on these two organs rarely have opportunities to meet. Progress in organ engineering requires a multidisciplinary approach because of the complexity of the organs and related structures and functionalities involved. We therefore propose the establishment of a group comprised of researchers with different specialties who have a common interest in tackling problems related to complex aspects of organ engineering. 
On the next page, we outline some of our progress in establishing this Thematic Group. We hope you will agree that it represents an opportunity for new collaboration, which will ultimately aim to generate engineered whole organs for the clinic.

Progress to date
Several different groups have dedicated themselves to the engineering of individual whole organs, such as kidney, liver, pancreas, and cardiothoracic organs to specific aspects directly related to organ engineering such as the ability to decellularize organs, enhance revascularization techniques, develop improved cocultures to optimize function-specific cell phenotypes, and the development of artificial matrices composed of Hydrogels or polymers alone or in combination with extracellular matrix specific molecules. During the last world TERMIS 2012 conference in Vienna we discussed amongst several interested TERMIS members the possibility to organize a thematic group to stimulate collaboration throughout the Society to address organ specific tissue engineering challenges.


  1. Matrices (decullularization, polymers, Hydryogels and biofunctionalization)
  2. Vascularization (proliferation and differentiation methods, in vitro and in vivo models)
  3. Mass transport (nutrient and oxygen diffusion, endocrine, exocrine, and metabolic functions)
  4. Immuno-evasion (cell encapsulation techniques using scaffolds and Hyrdogels)
  5. Specialized three dimensional culture techniques (perfusion culture systems, intra or extra-corporal dialysis development and cell seeding methods)
  6. Fundamental aspects of de novo cell formation (stem cell differentiation)
  7. Design of multicellular bioartificial systems
  8. Developmental biology principles for tissue regeneration


The goal of our thematic group is to foster the engineering of whole organs in the laboratory. The ultimate application of this technology may be used as in vitro assays to foster a drug development and toxicity screening, as a novel platform in which to study human diseases, or a transplantable graft for organ replacement. Though the possibilities may be endless, the development of this technology presents many challenges and individual, though interrelated, areas that are desperately in need of further research. This thematic group will become a forum for common research interests discussed to date that directly relate to the further development of this young field and include: The complex nature of whole organ engineering will require a close collaboration between specialists from various disciplines. To this extent, the Thematic Group on Whole Organ Engineering will coordinate multi-disciplinary and multi-investigator activities that aim to synergize upon the expertise of its members and provide an exchange of ideas throughout the Society by focusing on the critical challenges addressed above. Some of the common aims of the prospective collaboration discussed to date include:

  1. International research exchanges between laboratories
  2. An on-line meeting place to facilitate joint multi-investigator, multi-institutional grant proposals
  3. Enable discussions on topics related to the thematic group within TERMIS through web-based interactive exchanges
  4. Promoting international and intercontinental collaboration
  5. Decreasing donor organ shortages
  6. Enhance access to research facilities and new technologies
  7. Early discussions on novel research trends by organizing symposia druing the annual and World Congress
  8. Future training and educational activities through workshops scheduled around the annual meetings
  9. Strategies for translation of new technologies into clinical application