Dr. Verdelis Receives NIH Shared Instrumentation Grant

The Center for Craniofacial Regeneration Microcomputed Tomography Core (microCT) Director Dr. Konstantinos Verdelis has received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling $323,000 for an ex vivo high resolution microCT system for the School of Dental Medicine. The system will be housed at the School of Dental Medicine's MicroCT Core at the Center for Craniofacial Regeneration (CCR) in Salk Pavillion.

"Acquisition of this advanced technology piece of equiment is an important addition to the resources of the CCR," says Dr. Verdelis. "It will increase the analytical capabilities for all of Pitt and neighboring institutions."

In addition to the CCR and the School of Dental Medicine, researchers in a multitude of fields across the University, from developmental biology to materials science, will benefit from access to the equipment, Dr. Verdelis says.

"The 3-D spatial analysis capabilities provided by this system, the Bruker Skyscan 1272, are of a level previously unavailable to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh or other Pittsburgh-area academic institutions. The system is capable of submicron resolution acquisition of images in 3-D fashion from a wide range of materials, of both hard and soft tissue," he says.

The funds were awarded through the NIH's Shared Instrumentation Grant (SIG) program, which enables acquisition of high-end research instruments by federally-funded expert groups that have a high expertise in and need for the technology offered by specific equipment. The program encourages operation of the instrument in a facility open to providing services for the broader local scientific community.

The grant was a collaborative effort including researchers from the School of Dental Medicine and researchers from several other University of Pittsburgh departments. These included four School of Medicine faculty, as well as faculty from the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (MIRM) and the Swanson School of Engineering. Researchers at neighboring Carnegie Mellon University also were included in the proposal and will utilize the equipment.

"Over the last few years, CCR's MicroCT Core has established a close collaboration with many prinicipal investigators (PIs) within the Pitt community," Dr. Verdelis says. "We have worked extensively with these PIs, as well as students and fellows, on applying microCT analysis to extract important data for their research. We also have trained them in processing microCT data so they can understand the technique better and maximize its benefit. Through the addition of this system with its greatly expanded capabilities at the CCR, we will be able to cover many of the needs in high-resolution studies at the University of Pittsburgh in an efficient way."

In a letter of support for the submission to the NIH SIG program, School of Dental Medicine Dean Thomas Braun described Dr. Verdelis' effort as "critical to the mineralized tissue characterization studies at the University of Pittsburgh."

"in my discussions (with Dr. Verdelis), it was clear that the strength of the grant is the fact that it is truly in response of the demand of the local research community at the University of Pittsburgh and of other research organizations in the greater Pittsburgh area," Dr. Braun wrote.

The MicroCT core also shares an in vivo intermediate resolution system (Scanco Medical, VivaCT 40) with MIRM at the Bridgeside Point2 facility.