Northwestern scientist earns Hartwell research award

Rebecca Savransky, Campus Editor

A Northwestern scientist was awarded a 2013 Hartwell Individual Biomedical Research Award.

Feinberg Prof. Edward Gong was given the honor for his proposal, “Harnessing the Regenerative Capability of Bladder Smooth Muscle Progenitor Stem Cells to Restore Function to the Obstructed Bladder.”

“The Hartwell process is very competitive,” Hartwell Foundation president Fred Dombrose said in a news release. “Ed proposed a very innovative solution to an unmet and very compelling need.”

Gong’s research is focused on a congenital condition known as posterior urethral valve.

“Despite learning how to manage these bladder symptoms, we’ve never really come up with anything that will fix the problem,” Gong said in the release. “Most research is looking to replace the bladder, but those artificial bladders don’t really work well yet.”

Members of the project Gong is working on are studying progenitor muscle stem cells in the bladder for a benign disease. His team is the first group to study this.

“I want to create a mechanism to help the bladder from deteriorating,” he said. “If it does deteriorate, then I want to be able to reactivate cells within the bladder and regenerate the function. That’s never been done before.”

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